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Bahrain government lifts ban on opposition party

The Justice Ministry of Bahrain [BBC backgrounder] announced Saturday that the government will be take action to lift the ban on the leading opposition party, the National Democratic Action Society [website]. The leftist opposition party, known as Waad and aligned with the largest Shi'ite opposition group, was shut down in April during the pro-democracy protests [JURIST report]. Waad spokesman Radhi al-Mousawi said the party would reopen its headquarters in the capital, Manama, and later its office in Muharraq. Waad is considering engaging in the political dialogue in July with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa [official profile] regarding the kingdom's state of crisis. Ibrahim Sharif, leader of the Waad party, remains in prison [Khaleej Times report] for allegedly plotting a coup with the support of a foreign terrorist group.

In April, al-Khalifa declared [JURIST report] a three-month state of emergency [decree text, in Arabic] in response to growing unrest in the island nation. The state of emergency came just days after a group of 22 Bahraini lawmakers, part of an independent pro-government bloc, called on the King to impose martial law under articles 36 and 123 of the Bahraini Constitution [text, PDF]. The Bahraini government's response to the ongoing protests have prompted international concern. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to violence against protesters [JURIST report] in the country, referencing attempts to quell protests sweeping across the region. Ban said that he was "disturbed by all these violent means of trying to disperse demonstrators, the freedom of expression, freedom of access to information, particularly the journalists."

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