Sheikh Hamad bin Khalilda al-Thani: Palestine is no excuse for our failure to reform

From a speech by the Emir of Qatar at a conference on democracy held in Doha

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The failure to solve the Palestinian question has generated in our region cumulative anger that no one can overlook. However, honesty obliges us to stress that the roots of wrath in our region do not spring from the Palestinian question alone; they go deeper and further, and are due to problems of our own that have nothing to do with the outside world; problems that we allowed to pile up unremedied and amass unchecked.

The failure to solve the Palestinian question has generated in our region cumulative anger that no one can overlook. However, honesty obliges us to stress that the roots of wrath in our region do not spring from the Palestinian question alone; they go deeper and further, and are due to problems of our own that have nothing to do with the outside world; problems that we allowed to pile up unremedied and amass unchecked.

For many years, there has prevailed an argument that excessively uses what the others do as an excuse for not catching up with the march of progress. Political settlement and reform are not two options from which we have to choose, but are two priorities for which we have to work diligently and honestly. Other countries and societies have suffered as we did from colonisation, subordination and protectorate status, yet they reformed themselves and set out steadily towards modernity and the rule of institutions.

Qatar over the last years has gone a long way on the road towards promoting popular participation, which was embodied by the referendum last April on the draft permanent constitution, the articles of which guarantee rights, protect freedoms, build the state of institutions and the rule of law and pave the way shortly for holding parliamentary elections by which the citizens participate in setting up an advisory council that would assist in upgrading public work.

Our region is in need of a new era where the peoples are prepared for enlightened participation and sincere shouldering of responsibility.

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