Bahrain has suspended a national dialogue that began last February but was boycotted months ago by the main Shiite opposition, a government statement said on Thursday.

It gave no indication that the process aimed at ending the political impasse in the Persian Gulf kingdom with a Shiite majority could resume.

The decision came after eight Sunni associations announced that they too would suspend their participation in the talks.

They said in a joint statement this was due to " the absence of a party that was invited to take part in the dialogue and its withdrawal " from the talks.

It was also because of " government stances that show their lack of will to discuss matters on the agenda " leading to " unfruitful sessions " of the dialogue.

On September 18, five groups including the main opposition Shiite movement Al - Wefaq pulled out of the national reconciliation talks after the detention of Khalil al - Marzooq, the spokesman for the al - Wefaq National Islamic Society.

He was released after the trial opened but was banned from leaving the country, which has been hit by a sporadic uprising since February 2011.

Al - Wefaq withdrew from talks in July 2011, but joined the dialogue this year.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid - February 2011, calling for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown, and security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses.