Friday, March 18, 2005Le Monde Diplomatique:
President George Bush has hailed Bahrain’s progress towards democracy. Yet Bahrain’s emir proclaimed himself king three years ago, promulgated a constitution giving him full powers and has attacked the few remaining civil liberties. Arbitrary imprisonment is commonplace and one of the main human rights organisations has been closed.
The journalist 'tells it like it is' and gives an excellent exposition of recent events since the Amir came to power in 1998. Had he waited a month, he could have added another two paragraphs on the clampdown on free speech and the UN recommendations on discrimination. I really recommend reading it for anyone who wishes to understand the reason behind the political stalemate between the government and opposition over the Constitution.
I'll make it a permanent link in my sidebar as 'Background information' when I get the chance.
Opposition movements were preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of the adoption of the charter when, on 14 February 2002, the emir proclaimed himself king. The next day, on opening their newspapers, they discovered he had promulgated a new constitution, which had been decided without prior consultation and came into force immediately.
There was no longer any social contract between the monarch and his sovereign people. The constitution set up a parliament, divided into an upper and lower chamber. The 40 members of the Council of Deputies (lower chamber) would be directly elected.
But the king would appoint the 40 members of the Shura Council (upper chamber), an advisory body originally set up in 1992. He would also name the prime minister and cabinet, members of the constitutional court and all judges.