King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on Tuesday called on all segments of the Bahraini society to "assume their national responsibility and help the country move past the events that hit it last year."
"The government, but also all Bahraini citizens, political societies and civil organisations should assume their role in actively promoting and participating in democratic practices within the law and public order," King Hamad said in his speech as he accepted a report by a national commission tasked with following up the implementation of recommendations made by an international fact-finding panel.
"We must all draw lessons from the past incidents, learn from the experience and move forward towards the future with confidence and good intentions," he said.
The report by the National Commission to Review the Recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) was submitted after around 100 days of monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations by government ministries and agencies. "Now that the National Commission submitted its report, the government must incorporate it in its action programme to ensure that the recommendations are fully implemented and at all stages," King Hamad said in his address. "We want our people to feel the genuine and concrete changes reflected by these reforms in their daily lives. The real challenges that we will be facing in the next months are how to turn reforms into real changes in the culture of our society. However, such responsibilities are not confined to the government and the parliament has to assume its role in enacting laws and monitoring the government's implementation of its plans," the king told the large audience of lawmakers, ministers, civil society figures, media and diplomats.
The implementation of the recommendations reflects Bahrain's commitment to reforms in all areas, King Hamad said.
"Reforms must always move forward as progress is a way of life. Since we assumed power, we have adopted a development policy in which we safeguarded the principles of our religion and the values and traditions of our society. We do reiterate our determination to move ahead with the reforms to meet the ambitions of our people. We will at the same time look at the various international experiences to draw from them what could be beneficial for our people and would consolidate our unity and social strength, without excluding anyone or favouring a social segment over the other. Bahrain is an inclusive nation and the doors to dialogue are and will always remain open," he said.
The king, who assumed power in March 1999 following the death of his father, said that a country's stability and sovereignty were linked.
"Whatever impacts the stability of a nation affects its sovereignty and allows foreign interference. Countries seek stability for the sake of their economy. But they also need it to protect their sovereignty and entities. We will not give up any of those and we will not relapse into the past," he said.
The 19-member commission was set up on November 26, days after the BICI issued a searing report on the responsibilities of the government and other parties in the events that hit the country in February and March and their consequences.