U.N. welcomes Bahrain reform drive

Jan. 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM
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UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- All communities in Bahrain are expected to contribute to a national dialogue proposed by the country's ruling monarchy, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Bahraini King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa has called on the opposition and pro-reform movements to convene for a national dialogue.

A statement from Ban's spokesman said he's "consistently" pressed for an inclusive dialogue that would address the aspirations of Bahrainis.

"This initiative is an important first step toward reforms that ensure justice and human rights for all Bahrainis," the statement read. "He expects that all communities will be represented fairly and freely and calls on all Bahrainis to contribute to creating a conducive atmosphere for a successful dialogue."

Protests in 2011, led by predominately Shiite groups, prompted a government response that was criticized by members of the international community. Last year, Manama was the target of renewed criticism after it placed a temporary ban on public demonstrations and revoked the citizenship of several opposition leaders.

The government, however, said it was committed to a series of reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

A protester detained for her role in anti-government activity in 2011 this week accused a member of the royal family of abuse.

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