DUBAI: Bahrain's national dialogue, aimed at resolving the political deadlock in the kingdom, is in trouble due to major disagreements between the government and the Shiite-led opposition, participants said Monday.
The opposition insists that representatives of the king should join the talks due to the fact that the Sunni Al-Khalifa monarchy which rules Shiite-majority Bahrain "monopolises all powers" in the tiny Gulf state.
"Major disagreements emerged Sunday" when the opposition insisted that a representative of the king, and not only of the government, join the talks that began two weeks ago, a participant told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Confirming its stance, the opposition said in a statement: "The absence of authority, specifically a representative of the king, leaves the talks short of a key role player."
It said the Al-Khalifa monarchy "monopolises all powers which we cannot discuss handing back to the people with parties that hold no authority."
Speaking to reporters late on Sunday, Justice Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali al-Khalifa, who is also the coordinator of the dialogue, accused the opposition of "retracting earlier agreements that the government will be (the sole) partner at the dialogue."
In an interview with Qatar's Alarab daily, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa spoke, however, of a "positive" atmosphere at the dialogue.
The talks, in addition to three government ministers, include members of the Shiite-led opposition, Sunni political groups and members of parliament.
Tension meanwhile prevails on the ground in Bahrain, with witnesses reporting daily opposition protests which frequently degenerate into clashes with police.
Protests on the second anniversary of the February 14, 2011 uprising left three people dead, one of them a policeman.
Bahrain has witnessed two years of political upheaval linked to opposition demands for a real constitutional monarchy, with the unrest claiming at least 80 lives, according to international rights groups.