Dubai: A Bahraini court on Sunday ordered the kingdom’s main opposition group Al Wefaq to be dissolved, a judicial source said, after authorities accused it of “harbouring terrorism.”
The administrative court in Manama also ordered the Shiite movement’s funds to be seized by the government, the source said.
The United Nations, United States, and rights groups had called for the legal process against the bloc to be dropped.
Al Wefaq was the largest in parliament before its lawmakers resigned in protest at the quelling of 2011 protests calling for an elected government.
The court accused Al Wefaq, which draws most of its support from the Shiite community, of “inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations and sit-ins which could lead to sectarian strife in the country.”
It said that the bloc had “criticised the performance of the state authorities - executive, judicial, and legislative.”
On June 28, Al Wefaq’s defence lawyers withdrew from court proceedings in protest at the government’s push to accelerate the process, which was initially set for October 6.
The court already suspended all of Al Wefaq’s activities on June 14, ordering its offices closed and assets frozen.
The justice ministry, which had requested dissolving Al Wefaq, accused the bloc of providing a haven for “terrorism, radicalisation and violence” and opening the way for “foreign interference” in the kingdom’s affairs.
That was an allusion to Iran, which Bahrain accuses of fomenting unrest among its Shiite community.
Bahrain has carried out an intensifying crackdown on leading opposition figures.
Al Wefaq chief, Shiite cleric Ali Salman, is serving a nine-year jail term for inciting violence after a court in May more than doubled his sentence.
His arrest in December 2014 sparked protests in Bahrain.
Last month, Bahrain stripped the kingdom’s top Shiite cleric Shaikh Eisa Qassim of his nationality, prompting street protests in his home village of Diraz, west of Manama.