Manama: Bahrain, home to less than 600,000 citizens, has 21 officially registered political formations, according to the justice minister.
The formations, locally referred to as societies, are registered under the law of associations endorsed by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on July 30, 2005 after it was approved by the parliament.
“The societies that existed before the promulgation of the law regularised their situation while the new ones had to be officially registered to operate,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa told the parliament session on Tuesday.
“Right now, there is a case pending at the court against one of the societies,” he said, referring to Amal.
The society was last year accused of “repeated and gross violations” that included its “not providing a copy of its annual budget and the failure to convene the general assembly meeting for more than four years — 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012”.
The justice ministry said that the 2012 assembly was “null and void because it was convened in a place of religious worship”.
The ministry, pushing for the dissolution of the society, argued that “its religious leadership explicitly instigated violence and hatred”.
However, Amal has denied the charges and has legally challenged the ministry’s move.
In his statement to the parliament where he was requested by lawmakers to provide answers in parliament on how the ministry was dealing with the political societies, Shaikh Khalid said that it had provided 1.5 million Bahraini dinars (Dh14.42 million) to all the political formations to support them.
“The financial support is linked to the number of members in the society. However, we had to suspend support to the societies that have failed to comply with the regulations,” he said. “We have constant and regular communication with the societies to ensure that they are complying with the constitution and with the law and that there is no exclusion. We do not publish every contact we have with the societies, but we are in close contact.”
Under Bahrain’s laws, political societies cannot be established on the basis of class, profession, sect, or geography.
However, observers have been highly critical of the societies that emerged in the wake of the reforms launched in 2001 as the political arms of religious sects or charity groups.