Bahrain seeks court order to take action against two political parties

April 14, 2011

Bahrain’s justice ministry on Thursday said it was taking legal action against Al Wefaq and the Islamic Action Society.

The ministry said both bodies had broken the law, gone against the constitution of the country, engaged in activities that undermined social and national peace, and incited people to disrespect constitutional institutions.

“All political societies should be committed to reinforcing national cohesion, reinforcing the sovereignty, security and stability of the kingdom and promoting reforms,” the ministry said in a statement.

Both societies were among a seven-member opposition alliance that played an important role in the protests launched on February 14 in the country to press for political and constitutional reforms.

However, their role faded after radical groups took over the protests and called for setting up a republic.

Hassan Madan, the head of the Democratic Tribune, another member of the alliance, on Wednesday said that their protest movement had been hijacked, which had subsequently caused a deep rift along sectarian lines within the country.

Al Wefaq, registered as the Islamic National Accord Association, is Bahrain’s largest political and religious society and was the biggest bloc in the parliament until its 18 members resigned on February 27 to protest against the way the government dealt with demonstrators.

However, the lower chamber accepted the resignation of only 11 members and said it would look into the remaining seven cases at a later stage. The 18 members were elected in October from the constituencies where they ran.

Al Wefaq boycotted the parliamentary elections in 2002, the first to be held following a three-decade constitutional hiatus, but reversed its stance four years later to win 17 of the 18 constituencies in which it fielded candidates, all men.

The Islamic Action Society, a much smaller political and religious formation, has consistently boycotted the elections as a group, but allowed its members to run individually and without its backing.

Bahrain has 18 registered political societies and three political movements that have refused to join mainstream politics. Only Islamist societies have succeeded in winning seats in the 40-member lower chamber.

The chamber on Thursday cancelled a rescheduled session due, once more, to lack of quorum.

The weekly session is usually held on Tuesday, but it was this week adjourned to Thursday after the required number of lawmakers to start the debates could not be achieved.

However, on Thursday fewer than the 21 lawmakers required for quorum showed up for the session, an indication of the challenges the lower chamber is now facing after the 18 MPs representing Al Wefaq resigned. The absence of more than two lawmakers cancels holding the session.

However, Khalifa Al Dhahrani, the chamber’s speaker, said the next session would be held on Tuesday, “even if only four MPs showed up”.

“This is the first time in Bahrain’s history that two parliamentary sessions are cancelled in one week,” he said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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