France says Bahrain tensions putting 'brake' on national reconciliation

June 2, 2017 17:34
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PARIS  - France said on Friday that increasing tension in Bahrain was preventing national reconciliation efforts in the Gulf Arab state after a decision to dissolve the main secular opposition group, which has alarmed human rights campaigners.

A Bahraini court on Wednesday ordered the dissolution of the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), a social and political association, which campaigns for democracy, human rights and social freedoms.

"The worsening tensions in Bahrain constitute a brake in the resumption of a broad political dialogue that encompasses all components of Bahraini society," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told reporters in a daily online briefing.

"This dialogue is the only way to ensure national reconciliation."

France, one of the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, has under the previous administration nurtured closer ties with Gulf Arab states and rarely publicly criticized internal political issues.

The Bahraini Justice Ministry, which filed a case against Waad in March accusing it of "serious violations targeting the principle of respecting the rule of law, supporting terrorism and sanctioning violence" welcomed the court ruling.

The court said the group had glorified as "martyrs of the homeland" men convicted of killing three police officers in a bomb attack in 2014, the ministry said in a statement. The men were executed this year, Bahrain's first use of capital punishment in years.

The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said the court ruling was part of a wider crackdown on opposition groups and would prove counter-productive.

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