Upcoming parliamentary elections in Bahrain have been deprived of any legitimacy by a ban on opposition parties, legislators in the US, UK, Ireland and the European parliament have declared in four separate letters calling on the country to end the repression. Bahrain, a former British colony ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family, is due to hold elections on 24 November for the Council of Representatives of Bahrain’s national assembly, one of the Gulf’s few democratic institutions. Bahrain’s assembly consists of an upper house appointed directly by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa called the Shura or consultative council, and an elected council of representatives, the main lawmaking body, each with 40 seats. Nearly 366,000 citizens have been declared eligible to vote. Separately, members of the royal family hold 12 of the 26 posts in the cabinet. The other 14 posts are held by political appointees that are not members of the royal family.
But the validity of these elections has been thrown into question by a ban imposed on opposition parties and a life sentence this month handed down to the opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of leading opposition political party, Al-Wefaq. He has been found guilty of allegedly spying for Qatar.
International election monitors have been banned, as they were at the time of the last elections in 2014.
Bahrain is a long-standing American ally and host of the US Fifth Fleet, and is also given substantial financial aid by the UK to boost its internal human rights work.