x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Bahrain denies plan to disband opposition

Denial comes after the US criticised an announcement that the government would attempt to dissolve the country's biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq.

Bahrain's foreign minister yesterday denied his government was attempting to dissolve the country's biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq, following criticism by the United States of the legal action it was taking against the group.

Bahrain's ministry of justice and Islamic affairs said on Thursday it would dissolve Al Wefaq and the Islamic Action group in the government's toughest action yet against Shiite dissidents who led an uprising to demand more say.

"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.

His comment appeared to contradict justice ministry statements accusing Al 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.

The US state department spokesman, Mark Toner, on Thursday urged the authorities to reverse their decision to disband Al Wefaq.

* Reuters