Bahrain has filed a lawsuit to suspend Al-Wefaq’s activities for three months after the largest Shiite opposition group allegedly violated the kingdom’s law on associations, the official BNA news agency reported Sunday.
Political parties are banned in Bahrain, as in other Gulf Arab monarchies, and Al-Wefaq has the status of an association.
The ministry of justice said Al-Wefaq must rectify its “illegal status following the annulment of four general assemblies for lack of a quorum and the non-commitment to the public and transparency requirements for holding them,” as per Bahraini regulations, said BNA.
The ministry said it “filed the lawsuit following the insistence of Al-Wefaq on breaking the law… as well as its failure to amend violations related to its illegal general assemblies and the consequent invalidity of all its decisions,” BNA reported.
Al-Wefaq slammed the decision as a “spiteful” measure that is politically motivated.
It said that the ministry’s justifications are “false” and stressed that all general assemblies held by the association have abided by the law.
“Al-Wefaq had legally responded to all remarks, but it received no response from the ministry because there was not any fault in those general assemblies,” it said in a statement.
Al-Wefaq has led the protest movement that started in February 2011 by Bahrain’s Shiite majority against the ruling Sunni regime and has repeatedly called for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
Earlier this month, Bahrain’s chief prosecutor charged the head of Al-Wefaq, cleric Ali Salman, and his political assistant, ex-MP Khalil Marzooq, with violating a law on foreign contacts after they met the US Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski.
Bahrain has said the meeting at the US embassy violated the law stipulating that contacts between political associations and foreign parties “should be coordinated with the foreign ministry and in the presence” of its representative.
Manama had told Malinowski, who is the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, that he was “unwelcome” and should “leave immediately.”
Bahrain is a strategic archipelago just across the Gulf from Iran. Washington is a long-standing ally of the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty, and Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.