A man grieves as the body of Bahraini businessman Haji Karim Fakhrawi, who allegedly died in police custody, is carried into a Manama cemetery for burial on Wednesday. Image Credit: AP

Manama Bahrain is to seek court approval to dissolve the main opposition group Al Wefaq and a second opposition party, the state news agency said yesterday.

"The Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs announced it is taking legal action to dissolve the Islamic Action party and [Al] Wefaq group," a statement by Bahrain News Agency said.

"This is because of major violations of the constitution and laws of the kingdom, undertaking activities that harmed social peace, national unity, and inciting disrespect for constitutional institutions."

Meanwhile, the head of the Democratic Tribune urged Bahrain's liberals to overcome their differences and join hands to reassert the concept of national unity while shunning sectarianist tendencies.

"The current hard polarisation trends demand that the democrats should work together to reinvigorate national unity and reinforce cohesion between the different segments of the society," Hassan Madan said. "It will take some time, but we have no choice. The political scene in Bahrain has long suffered from the absence or weakness of the democratic national movement after it failed to produce an action plan that would distinguish it from the other societies," he said.

The political turmoil has divided the country alongside sectarian lines and attempts to bridge widening gaps have been subdued and unsuccessful.

Warning

Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa yesterday warned against divisions and said that there would be zero-tolerance towards those who attempt to split the society.

Madan, whose society joined six other political formations during the protests, said that the political movement launched on February 14 to press for constitutional reforms and more rights for the people was eventually hijacked and the ensuing escalation caused serious damage to national unity and society. "Even the gains achieved through the reforms were hijacked through the use of slogans calling for the downfall of the regime and a series of attitudes that were not endorsed by all and in fact caused serious concerns among a large number of people," he said.

A solution to the crisis would be to make sure that the healing process does not exclude anyone, Hassan said.

"Everybody needs to feel that they have a role to play in the nation-building process," he said.

In Washington, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said "security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain", but highlighted that "the United States has a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future."

In Doha, an American diplomat said that the political turmoil in Bahrain should not be taken for a shift in Washington's relations with Manama.

"Bahrain has always been a US partner and now the country is going through a difficult period, but this is not a reason to change the relations between the two countries," Adam Ereli, principal deputy assistant secretary for the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said.

"It is not said that every time that there is a security problem in a country it is necessary for the US to change its position toward that country. It depends on the circumstances. With Libya it was necessary, but the nature of the conflict in Bahrain is very different from the one that is going on in Libya," Ereli said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula on Wednesday.

Ripple effect

The diplomat, who was deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Qatar from 2000 to 2003 and ambassador to Bahrain from 2007 until this year, said that the events unfolding in the region would affect everywhere and every place.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast added fuel to the tension between Bahrain and Iran, saying that a media report that two Iranian citizens were on trial in Bahrain on spying charges "has no truth behind it".

Bahrain on Tuesday said that it had put two Iranians and one Bahraini on trial for providing military and economic information to the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards between 2002 and April 2010.

Bahrain seeks to dissolve main opposition group -agency