Bahraini opposition figures ordered out of Lebanon

AFP , Thursday 16 Dec 2021

Lebanon on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of Bahraini opposition figures after they held a press conference that irked the Gulf kingdom, where the group is banned, Lebanon's state news agency said.

Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi
File Photo: Lebanon s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office, in Beirut, Nov. 23, 2021.

In Beirut last week Al-Wefaq, which was Bahrain's leading opposition party until the judiciary dissolved it in 2016, denounced what it said were human rights violations in the kingdom, local media reported.

Al-Wefaq has close links with Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah.

In response, Bahrain's government denounced "the promotion of malicious allegations and causing harm to the Kingdom of Bahrain", Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) said.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi on Wednesday directed security officials "to take the measures necessary to expel from Lebanon the non-Lebanese members" of Al-Wefaq, it added.

During a call with his Bahraini counterpart, Mawlawi said that Lebanon would not be used "as a platform to spread hate... towards Arab countries," the NNA reported.

In 2011, a mainly Shia protest movement took to the streets of Bahrain to demand an elected government, briefly threatening the Sunni monarchy's grip on power before a deadly crackdown.

Al-Wefaq was later dissolved over allegations including "harbouring terrorism".

Bahrain rejects accusations of rights violations and denies any discrimination against its Shia citizens.

In early December Lebanon's information minister resigned in hopes of ending a stand-off with Gulf countries that erupted after he criticised the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia as well as Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE responded by recalling their ambassadors from Beirut.

Riyadh also blocked imports and Kuwait said it would limit visas issued to Lebanese, prompting fears for the interests of millions of expatriates living in Arab states of the oil-rich Gulf.

The stand-off marked a fresh blow for Lebanon, which is in the grips of a crippling economic crisis and whose government was only formed in September after a 13-month deadlock.

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