Bahrain Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa receives British ambassador Jamie Bowden. Image Credit: BNA

Manama: More than 200 community leaders on Tuesday made new calls for visiting British ambassador Jamie Bowden to leave the country.

In a petition published in the Arabic press, 240 majlis owners said that they wanted the diplomat to get transferred elsewhere for "interfering in the country's internal affairs."

"We condemn the interference of the British ambassador in our domestic affairs and demand that the authorities expel him from the country," they said in their petition.

"The ambassador has not respected international and diplomatic laws and traditions and has clearly abused the sovereignty of the Kingdom, the will of the people and international laws," they said.

"We cannot remain silent after what the British ambassador did. We consider his behaviour as a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, especially Article 41," they said.

Bowden last month came under fire following a meeting with members from Al Wefaq Society, the country's largest political formation, which called for changes in Bahrain's government system.

The call was branded as a constitutional coup and sparked uproar among members of parliament and some political societies.

MP Jassem Al Saeedi led the charges against the ambassador and staged a rally in front of the British embassy.

Bowden denied that he sought to interfere in Bahrain's domestic affairs and insisted that his meeting with members of Al Wefaq was not secret.

"There have been a number of allegations that the ambassador's recent meeting with MPs from Al Wefaq society was secret. This is incorrect. The meeting was a routine one held in the British embassy with full knowledge of numerous staff," he said.

"As is usual, it was notified in advance to the Ministry of Interior police who guard the embassy compound. We regularly meet MPs from Al Asala, Al Menbar, Al Wefaq and independents. This does not imply, of course, that we agree with them on every issue," he said.

Bowden, the 12th British ambassador to Bahrain since the country's independence in 1971 from Britain, was appointed in 2006.

Fact file: Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961)

a. Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.

b. All official business with the receiving State entrusted to the mission by the sending State shall be conducted with or through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State or such other ministry as may be agreed.

c. The premises of the mission must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State.

Timeline: British ambassadors to Bahrain

  • 1971 - Alexander John Dickson Stirling
  • 1972 - Robert MathiesonTesh
  • 1975 - Edward Ferguson Given
  • 1979 - Harold Berners Walker
  • 1981 - Roger Tomkys
  • 1984 - Francis Sidney Edward Trew
  • 1988 - John Alan Shepherd
  • 1992 - Hugh James Oliver RedversTunnell
  • 1996 - David Ian Lewty
  • 1999 - Peter William Ford
  • 2003 - Robin Lamb
  • 2006 - Jamie Bowden