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Defiant society refuses to appoint new leader

AN opposition society has refused to replace its jailed leader despite facing legal action.

National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad) said it will continue to rally behind its secretary general Ibrahim Sharif, who is serving time behind bars on charges related to espionage.

It could face suspension if Bahrain's courts rule in favour of a lawsuit filed by the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry, which said it found that the renewal term of Mr Sharif was in violation of the Political Societies Law.

"The decision by the ministry will not affect our views because our central committee and its members support Ibrahim Sharif as the society's secretary-general," said Wa'ad deputy-secretary general Radhi Al Mousawi.

He said authorities wanted them to cancel Mr Sharif's membership on the grounds he was a convict.

"We continue to demand the release of Ibrahim Sharif and will again nominate his name for the top post during the society's general assembly to be held in October," he added.

"However, this time we will ask him if he wants to continue to be the secretary-general or not."

He claimed the "crackdown" on opposition societies was because they had announced to boycott parliamentary and municipal council elections expected to be held in November.

The ministry reviewed 20 political societies and scrutinised their general assemblies held in the last year.

It said Al Wefaq National Islamic Society's election conference in 2010, 2012, 2013 and in March this year were "legally invalid".

It said a lawsuit has been filed for the correction of the society's status in three months after the date of court ruling.

However, lawyer Abdulla Al Shamlawi, who is part of Al Wefaq's legal team, said they have still not received any official letter from the ministry regarding the lawsuit.

"We have only read reports in the media about the lawsuit against Al Wefaq and will act accordingly once we receive something in writing," he said.

The ministry is also pursuing legal action against the Justice Development Movement (JDM) for not notifying officials about holding its general conference in 2012 and election conference last year. JDM secretary-general Kadhem Al Saeed said they were working to rectify their situation. Violation "We are a political society and the violation mentioned by the ministry is related to the general assembly which we did not organise due to lack of quorum, but now we will soon announce a date when it will be held," he said. The documents released by the ministry list a schedule of general conferences held by different societies such as the National Unity Assembly, Al Asala Islamic Society, Al Menbar National Islamic Society, National Justice Movement (Adala) and others. The ministry did not find any violation against three other opposition groups - Al Ekha National Society, Democratic Progressive Tribune and Nationalist Democratic Assembly. They are part of the coalition headed by Al Wefaq and includes Wa'ad.



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