Bahrain’s main Shia opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has condemned a newly passed law that bans figures of dissolved opposition parties and organizations from running in parliamentary elections.
On Monday, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah signed off on “The Exercise of Political Rights,” an amended version of the kingdom’s election law, which prohibits “leaders and members of political associations dissolved for violating the kingdom’s constitution or its laws” from standing as a candidate.
The law also bans anyone “convicted of a felony, even if they have been granted amnesty.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, al-Wefaq, which was dissolved by the ruling Al Khalifah regime in 2016, said the legislation deprives more than 50,000 Bahraini nationals from their civil and political right to run in elections.
The ban is meant to compensate for the Manama’s political failure in the face of popular pro-democracy protests that are demanding the formation of a just government, the statement read.
The new measure, which is unprecedented in the world, proves that the Bahraini regime is resorting to rigorous measures in order to institutionalize its tyranny and dominance on all aspects of people’s lives, the statement added.
Bahrain is expected to hold parliamentary elections in fall 2018. Opposition parties boycotted the 2014 polls.
Since February 2011, Bahraini people have been holding peaceful protest rallies on an almost daily basis, demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Bahrainis have also been complaining against widespread discrimination against the Shia majority in the kingdom.
Manama has responded to the demonstrations with lethal force, drawing international criticism from rights groups.
Bahraini authorities have further detained human rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties, revoked the nationality of several pro-democracy activists and deported those left stateless.
Scores have also been killed and hundreds arrested in Bahrain’s crackdown on dissent.
Human Rights Watch said in a report in May, “Courts convict and imprison peaceful dissenters, including prominent human rights defenders and opposition leaders, and file trumped-up charges against their relatives. Security forces use excessive force to disperse peaceful assemblies.”