Bahrain bars members of opposition groups from standing in elections

DUBAI – Bahrain‘s parliament approved a bill on Sunday barring members of dissolved opposition groups from running in elections, the latest step in a crackdown against dissent ahead of parliamentary polls this year.

Courts in Western-allied Bahrain, where the US Navy‘s Fifth Fleet is based, last year dissolved the main opposition groups al-Wefaq and National Democratic Action Society (Waad), accusing them of helping to foster violence and terrorism.

The Shura Council, parliament‘s upper house, passed the draft bill that bans leaders and members of political associations dissolved by the judicial system from standing in elections "due to their serious violations of the constitution and laws of the kingdom," state news agency BNA reported.

The bill, which has already been approved by the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, still needs to be signed by the king to become law.

Wefaq, which has strong links to the country‘s Shi‘ite Muslim majority, and Waad, which is seen as a secular movement, have both campaigned for social and political reforms in the island state, which is ruled by a Sunni Muslim royal family.

A former member of parliament for al-Wefaq, Ali Alaswad, criticized the move as an attempt to further stifle any opposition in the country.