Bahrain seeks to dissolve secular opposition group

Justice ministry accuses the National Democratic Action Society, or Waad, of inciting terrorism and promoting the overthrow of the government.

Bahrain’s government filed a lawsuit on Monday to dissolve a secular political group on grounds that it undermined security.

The justice ministry accused the National Democratic Action Society, or Waad, of “incitement of acts of terrorism” and promoting the “violent and forceful overthrow” of the government, according to a statement carried on the state-run Bahrain News Agency.

Waad declined to immediately comment, but it long has been the target of authorities. Established in 2001 after its founder returned home after more than three decades in exile, Waad became a liberal bloc that reached out to both Shiite and Sunni reformers.

It found itself targeted in the government’s clampdown on the opposition following mass protests in 2011 to demand political reforms. Its then-leader Ebrahim Sharif ended up serving more than four years in prison after being convicted along with other activists by a military tribunal of plotting to overthrow the government.

Bahrain last year dissolved the country’s largest Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, and doubled a prison sentence for its secretary general, Sheikh Ali Salman.

The lawsuit against Waad came a day after parliament approved a constitutional amendment allowing military tribunals to try civilians, reversing one of the reforms made following a government-sponsored investigation into the 2011 demonstrations and subsequent crackdown. The kingdom has also restored the power of its domestic spy service to make some arrests.

Authorities say the rollbacks are necessary to fight terrorism as a series of attacks, including a January prison break, have targeted the island. Shiite militant groups have claimed some of the assaults.

* Associated Press