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Bahrain to auction banned opposition’s seized assets

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon . / AFP PHOTO / Eurokinissi / Yorgos KONTARINIS

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon . / AFP PHOTO / Eurokinissi / Yorgos KONTARINIS

Bahrain will auction the confiscated assets of the main Shiite opposition in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom after it was dissolved over terrorism-related charges, a judicial source said Saturday.

An administrative court on Thursday ordered the auctioning of Al-Wefaq’s assets to be held on October 26, the source said.

The group’s dissolution in July drew strong criticism from UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Bahrain’s allies in Washington and London, as well as Shiite-dominated Iran which Manama accuses of meddling in its affairs.

After the latest court decision, security forces seized Al-Wefaq’s assets including its headquarters outside Manama and two other offices in Shiite villages, the source said.

The accusations that led to the ban — upheld by an appeals court last month — included “harbouring terrorism”, inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations which threatened to spark sectarian strife in the Shiite-majority country.

Al-Wefaq’s leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been behind bars since December 2014 on charges of inciting hatred and calling for forceful regime change.

But on Monday Bahrain’s cassation court overturned his nine-year jail sentence and ordered a retrial.

Al-Wefaq was the largest group in parliament before its lawmakers resigned en masse in protest at the crushing of Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in 2011 calling for an elected government.

Political parties are banned in Bahrain, as in other Gulf Arab states, so Al-Wefaq operated as an association.

Also known as the Islamic National Accord Association, Al-Wefaq is heir to the Bahrain Freedom Movement which played a key role in Shiite-led protests in the 1990s that sought the restoration of the elected parliament scrapped in 1975.

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