In the latest move against the nation’s majority Shi’ite population, Bahrain’s government has announced a full ban on the largest political opposition party, al-Wefaq, and another smaller Shi’ite party, al-Amal.
Officials said that the groups were “threatening national unity” for their role in the popular protests demanding more political rights. The al-Wefaq Party had 17 of the 40 seats in parliament, more than double the number of any other party.
The Wefaq MPs all resigned when the government started its first crackdowns on protesters. Since then, the government has declared martial law, and GCC member nations, primarily Saudi Arabia, have deployed troops to help crush the demonstrations.
The bans leave a large portion of the Shi’ite population of Bahrain politically unrepresented in the government, the regime’s reaction to them protesting at their historical under-representation. The move has spawned more criticism of the monarchy, including a rare rebuke from the US State Department, which said that the groups were “legitimate political societies.”