Bahrain's foreign minister said
on Friday the Gulf Arab state was not trying to dissolve the
biggest opposition party, in comments that came after the United
States criticised legal action against the group, Wefaq.
Bahrain's Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs said on
Thursday it would dissolve Wefaq and another group in Bahrain's
toughest crackdown yet on Shi'ite dissidents who led an uprising
to demand more say in the Sunni-ruled monarchy.
"A clarification: Bahrain is not seeking to dissolve
political societies, official statement was incorrect," Sheikh
Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa wrote in a Twitter message.
"It's a court case against violations committed by the
societies... In accordance with the constitution, elections will
be held to fill seats vacated by Wefaq. All societies, including
Wefaq, are encouraged to participate in elections and serve the
people through parliament," he said.
The minister did not elaborate but his comment appeared to
contradict justice ministry statements accusing Wefaq, which won
18 seats in elections for the 40-seat parliament last year, and
the Islamic Action group, of trying to bring down the
constitutional order and taking instructions from religious
The ministry said courts were expected to give a decision on
the parties within one month and they would be dissolved
immediately if the government's petition were upheld.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Thursday
that Washington was concerned by the move to disband Wefaq and
urged the authorities to reverse the decision.
The government is led by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family,
which has good relations with the United States. Bahrain hosts
the US Fifth Fleet.
Last month the government crushed weeks of protests led
mainly by Shi'ites, deploying security forces throughout the
capital and calling in troops from Sunni-led Gulf neighbours
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Iran has called on the UN Security Council to protect
opposition activists in Bahrain, saying unrest and suppression
could destabilise the entire region, the official IRNA news
agency said on Friday.
Tehran has been outspoken in its criticism of the Bahraini
Sunni Muslim ruling family's suppression of protests by members
of the Shi'ite majority. Bahrain's Gulf Arab allies -- some of
which sent troops to the island state to bolster government
forces -- have accused the Islamic Republic of interference.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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