If you’re in Bahrain, you must have felt the tension over the past few months. This tension could in large part be attributed to the Bandargate scandal in which some members of the government and royal family have been implicated in disseminating sectarian strife; a conspiracy which has kept the Bahraini political and apolitical scenes alight.
That powder keg is very close to explosion.
Over the last 3 weeks, parliament, at least the House of Representatives part in it, could not be convened due to vociferous demands by Al-Wefaq (+1) to question the main minister involved in Bandargate on financial irregularities which might be enough to impeach him. The other side of the House adamantly refused to let that intrinsic legislative tool be used claiming that the questioning is unconstitutional and using every single trick they can get hold of to hinder it. So much so that the House’s main legal council quit rather suddenly and flew back to his native Egypt – some say due to him being pressured and cajoled to change his position of which he maintained the constitutionality of the motion.
The “loyalists” as they have become known – wrongly in my view – ditched the main legal council’s advice, ridden roughshod on the second council who agreed with the first, and took the advice of the most junior of councils who seems to have given them what they want.
Al-Wefaq and Aziz Abul continue to hold onto the constitutionality of their demand and did not budge from their position. They want to question Ahmed Attiyatallah and have threatened to continue to disrupt the House’s proceedings until they get their demand. According to the Constitution and the Bylaws, they are well within their right to question said minister.
If you have been following the snippets of news over the past few days, there has been several shuttle meetings between Al-Wefaq and the higher powers in society; Al-Wefaq even met first with the prime minister and then the king to share their views with them. Both, apparently, did not want to interfere in the legislative process but gave their overt blessings that any minister – even if from within the royal family – is not above questioning.
Al-Dhahrani, the speaker of the house, still insists on the unconstitutionality of the motion and wants the house to vote on it. A process that Al-Wefaq is completely against due to it being against the House’s bylaws first, and second, because they can never win that vote given that the current make-up of the House is 22 against and 18 for. You will be interested to know that Al-Wefaq is represented by 18 votes in the House, even though they have gained 63% of the actual vote! But that’s another story.
Tomorrow promises to be stellar. Will parliament be dissolved because the intransigence of the proponents and the opponents of the motion, or will it continue to be disrupted without a solution in the offing?
I personally do not believe that it will be dissolved. A magic solution – as is typical in this country – will appear at the last minute and will save the moment. The stakes are far too high for this “democratic experiment” to fail now.
My mind is still boggled as to why the parliament itself is against using a very important tool like questioning a minister. Other than them being interfered with and pushed into their respective positions, I really have no explanation to this laughable situation.
Well, tomorrow is another day. The sun will continue to shine and business will continue to be done and migrant workers will continue to strike and buildings will continue to be built in spite of everything. The “boom” that we are experiencing; however, might well have a different sound to it come tomorrow.
We shall wait and see.