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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05MANAMA375 2005-03-15 14:26:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manama
Cable title:  

LEADING BOYCOTTER DISCUSSES PROSPECTS FOR

Tags:   KDEM PGOV BA 
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151426Z Mar 05
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000375 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2015
TAGS: KDEM PGOV BA
SUBJECT: LEADING BOYCOTTER DISCUSSES PROSPECTS FOR
PARTICIPATION IN 2006

REF: A. MANAMA 228


B. MANAMA 174

Classified By: DCM Susan L. Ziadeh for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

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Summary
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1. (C) Aziz Abul, Director of International Relations for
the Quartet Alliance of boycotting societies and organizer of
the February 10 conference on constitutional reform, told us
that the boycotting societies want to be a part of the
democratic process but they do not believe that the current
system is a real democracy. He warned that without a serious
dialogue with the GOB, the Alliance will be more pro-active
than ever in keeping people away from the polls. End Summary.



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Independent Sunni chosen to represent the Alliance


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2. (SBU) Aziz Abul, who served as the head of the
preparatory committee for the February 10 conference on
constitutional reform (Ref A), told PolOff February 26 that
the four political societies that hosted the conference chose
him as their point of contact for foreign governments and
international organizations. Abul is not affiliated with any
of the political societies, known as the Quartet Alliance.
While the vast majority of Alliance members are Shi'a, Abul
is Sunni.



3. (C) Abul noted that Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Fatima
Al Belooshi had both publicly and privately forbidden the
Alliance from raising the constitutional reform issue with
foreign governments or foreign organizations. The press
reported and Abul confirmed that the Baathist society in the
Alliance, Al Tajomo' Al Qowmi, vowed to break apart from the
Alliance if members appealed for help from the U.S. or UK.
Abul made it clear that to avoid trouble with the GOB and Al
Tajomo' Al Qowmi, he was representing himself and not the
Alliance in his meeting with PolOff. However, he indicated
that he was expressing the Alliance's views. He mentioned
that the Alliance had unofficial communication with the
International Crisis Group, the International Commission of
Jurists, the Public International Law and Policy Group, and a
French socialist organization. He added that a British lord
offered to draft an analysis critical of the 2002
constitution.



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---
Frustration with the King's refusal to negotiate


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---



4. (C) When asked if the Alliance was seeking a return to
the 1973 constitution, amendments to the 2002 constitution,
or a totally new constitution, Abul replied that all three
options were viable. He said the Alliance's starting point
in any future negotiations with the GOB would be the National
Action Charter, which he stated was based on the 1973
constitution. Strategically, he said, the Alliance could not
begin with the 2002 constitution as this would imply that the
societies accept it.



5. (C) Abul said he knew that the Alliance could not
possibly get 100% of what it wanted, and noted that the
boycotting societies would likely agree to participate in the
elections if they see that the GOB has good intentions
regarding constitutional reform. He emphasized that the
Alliance respects the King and does not want to harm his
image, but promised that if the King refused to engage the
boycotting societies they will be more active than ever and
"out in the streets" convincing people not to vote. He
mentioned that Sheikh Issa Qassem and other influential
religious leaders assured the Alliance that they would
support a decision by the societies to boycott. He added
that the Alliance would be active in getting Sunnis as well
as Shi'as to refrain from voting.



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Issues other than constitution


--------------------------





6. (C) Beyond the constitution, Abul said there were several
other important issues that concerned the Alliance. The most
important was the demarcation of district lines in Bahrain,
which he claimed guaranteed Shi'a under-representation in
parliament and violated the principle of one man, one vote.
He noted that the size of the average Shi'a-dominated
electoral district is significantly larger than the size of
the average Sunni-dominated district. (Note: In a separate
meeting, Al Wifaq board member Nizar Al Qari told PolOff that
if the district lines were re-drawn in a fair way, at least
half of Al Wifaq's members would participate in the 2006
elections even without a dialogue on the constitution. End
Note.) In addition, he stressed the importance of changing
the election law to give political societies more freedom.
Alliance members also oppose the rule that required voters in
2002 to have their passports stamped to show they voted.



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Praise for the constitutional process in Iraq


--------------------------





7. (C) Abul praised the USG's support for a fair
constitutional process in Iraq. He said he knows the United
States is worried about Shi'a majority rule and Islamists
taking power in Bahrain, but emphasized that Bahrainis are
ready for democracy and should be able to exercise their
rights.



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Comment


--------------------------





8. (C) Abul's comments confirm that Alliance members want
to be a part of the democratic process. Since the breakdown
of the constitutional dialogue in October 2004, the King has
shown no interest in engaging in a debate about the
constitution outside of established political institutions.
There is still plenty of time to work out a face-saving
solution, if the parties choose to go this route.



9. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.
MONROE