Bahrain to seek closure of Shia opposition party
* Amal Party accused of violations of constitution and laws
* Party spokesman says govt pressuring them to accept national dialogue
DUBAI: Bahrain said on Sunday it would take legal measures to close down a Shia opposition party that has played a prominent role in protests against its Sunni monarchy.
Bahrain’s Justice Ministry said it would ask the courts to ban the Islamic Action Society, also referred to as Amal Party, for “major violations” of Bahrain’s constitution and laws, the state BNA news agency reported. It gave no details.
Amal spokesman Hisham Sabbagh said he believed the ministry was trying to put pressure on the party to accept a national dialogue with the government aimed at ending the political crisis which grew out of protests that erupted 16 months ago. He said the violations referred to party meetings in unlicensed premises in 2006 and 2008.
Bahrain’s biggest Shia opposition party, Wefaq, and other legal opposition groups have accepted the dialogue in principle, after saying a previous round was skewed towards pro-government factions and did not take their demands seriously.
Protesters led by the Shia majority took to the streets in February last year demanding an elected government, reduced powers for the ruling al Khalifa family, and an end to sectarian discrimination they say they face. A few Shia groups wanted to remove the monarchy.
Bahrain denies any policy of sectarian rule, and described the protests as an attempt by Iran to destabilise the country, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, by manipulating its co-religionists.
Bahrain called in troops from fellow Sunni-led monarchies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to crush the protests, and sentenced some of the organisers to life terms for trying to overthrow the state. reuters