20 November 2018 – Today, Andrea Delmastro delle Vedove, Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, expressed his concerns regarding the restrictive political environment in Bahrain ahead of the upcoming elections for the Council of Representatives of Bahrain’s National Assembly in a letter addressed to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The elections are due to be held on Saturday 24 November.

“The upcoming elections should be an opportunity for Bahrain to ease tensions and allow space for open dialogue to take place,” says Andrea Delmastro delle Vedove. “Instead, we have seen the enactment of increasingly repressive measures.”

The letter highlights various issues including the dissolution of all major opposition groups, the closure of the only independent newspaper, and the new legislation banning opposition from holding elected office. In addition, the letter addresses Bahrain’s general electoral infrastructure, which is inherently disadvantageous to the political opposition and Shia majority population.

The Italian parliamentarian calls on the Bahraini government to facilitate independent and impartial election monitoring, redraw electoral districts to eliminate gerrymandering, and amend the law banning opposition from seeking elected office if Bahrain wants its elections to be recognized by the international community as free and fair.

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain“Bahrain’s upcoming parliamentary elections in no way can be deemed free and fair with the extent the Bahraini government had restricted civil and political society. We strongly welcome the growing international concern, in particular from Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Andrea Delmastro delle Vedove, calling on the Bahraini government to take concrete measures to improve conditions and lift restrictions ahead of the elections. We echo their calls and urge the Bahraini government to take such steps towards ensuring free and fair elections.

Click here to read a PDF of the letter.