US Congress Committee: It will be Difficult for Int’l Community to Recognize Upcoming Elections in Bahrain as Legitimate

2018-11-07 - 8:15 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Congressmen James P. McGovern and Randy Hultgren, Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives, released a letter last week asking the King of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to ensure that the upcoming elections for the Council of Representatives of Bahrain's National Assembly meet international standards for free and fair elections.

The two congressmen said in an official statement that "the elections scheduled for late November are important because the Council is the only elected governing body in Bahrain, a long-standing American ally and host of the U.S. Fifth Fleet."

The statement said "the government has dissolved two major opposition political societies, barred all members of the societies from running for office on an individual basis, and imprisoned a number of key figures as well as writers and civil society leaders,"  adding that "Bahrain's electoral infrastructure inherently disadvantages the political opposition. There is no independent electoral commission and to date there has been no commitment by the government to permit either domestic or international observers."

"It will be difficult under these conditions for the international community to recognize the upcoming elections as legitimate," the statement read.

The Co-Chairs recommend several steps the Bahraini government should take to restore credibility to the elections. These include restoring the opposition's political rights, redrawing electoral districts, guaranteeing the presence of elections observers, and releasing imprisoned opposition leaders, including Sheikh Ali Salman, Hassan Mushaima, Abduljalil Al-Singace, Ahmed Humaidan, Naji Fateel, Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

The congressmen noted "as Members of Congress, we recognize that Bahrain has been an important ally for American security interests. At the same time, support for democracy and human rights is a pillar of American foreign policy, and we are concerned that Bahrain's current political path will lead to increased instability over time," indicating that "ensuring that the upcoming National Assembly elections are credible and legitimate would be an important corrective."

They concluded saying that "the failure to do so could reinforce the willingness of Members of Congress to take more coercive measures like the recent joint resolution introduced by Senator Rand Paul to block arms sales to the Kingdom."

The bi-partisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was established with the unanimous consent of the United States House of Representatives to promote human international human rights and defend them.

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