Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bahrain's Campaign Begins

Fred Lawson reports on recent developments in Bahraini politics:
"Campaigning for elections in Bahrain is typically combative, but this year the circumstances leading up to the combined parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled for October 23 are nothing short of explosive. Amidst a major crackdown on opposition figures and organizations, most of which champion the interests of the disadvantaged Shi'i community, various political societies (Bahrain has no political parties) are scrambling to define their platforms.

"Just one week after King Hamad bin'Isa Al Khalifa announced the date of the balloting on August 8, the campaign against liberals and leftists commenced with the arrest of Dr. 'Abd al-Jalil Singace, a key figure in Haqq (the Movement for Liberties and Democracy). Three other prominent human rights activists were rounded up the next day. The four were charged with setting up 'an organized network aiming to undermine the security and stability of the country,' as well as with inciting violence and terrorist acts against private and public property...

"The primary targeted organization, Haqq, has consistently criticized Bahrain's pre-eminent Shi’i political association, al-Wefaq (the Islamic National Accord Society), for its decision to contest the 2006 elections and start playing by the rules of the political game. The crackdown on Haqq in the run-up to next month's balloting confronts the leadership of al-Wefaq with a dilemma: it can close ranks with fellow Shi'a and pull out of the electoral process, opening itself to government accusations of complicity with hostile outside forces, or it can participate in the elections and abandon a large part of its potential constituency in the hope of effecting change from inside."



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