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Sacked councillors await court verdict

FIVE opposition councillors sacked for their alleged role in unrest in 2011 are due to learn today whether their appeals have been successful.

Bahrain's highest court, the Cassation Court, is due to issue a final ruling on whether they should be reinstated or not.

All five councillors are members of the Al Wefaq National Islamic Society and were stripped of their titles in votes taken by their colleagues almost two years ago.

The High Civil Court had earlier thrown out their appeals.

Municipal law states that seats of councillors kicked out by their colleagues should be filled by candidates who finished second in elections.

However, their seats have remained vacant after extremists threatened to target any replacements.

The five councillors include Dr Mohammed Abbas, who was voted out of his seat on the Muharraq Municipal Council.

He had been invited to resume his duties on the council if he apologised to members who previously booted him out, but he told the GDN he had no intention of saying sorry - particularly since he had been told he would not be paid for the 19 months of work he had missed.

"They sack me and humiliate me for practising my democratic right and want me to apologise so they can consider bringing me back," he told the GDN yesterday.

"Everyone who practised his right and was sacked from work has returned, but I am an elected member of the public and they are bargaining with me.

"I asked for my rights and my wages are part of them, since they are rightfully mine."

The Muharraq Municipal Council voted earlier this month to reconsider its decision to boot out Dr Abbas, after hundreds of residents signed a petition demanding his return.

Voters complained that they had been without proper services for around 19 months after the opposition representative was stripped of his title.

It was spearheaded by the Dair and Samaheej Charitable Organisations, which both fall within the constituency he represented.

Dr Abbas won his municipal seat in elections in October 2010 with around 80 per cent of the vote, while his runner-up secured just 5pc.

He was sacked in May 2011, along with four Al Wefaq representatives on the Central Municipal Council, for showing up at the UN House in Hoora with a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeking international intervention in Bahrain.

They also reportedly took part in an illegal demonstration at the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry complex during the unrest.

"We have decided to give the councillor (Dr Abbas) a second chance, but he slammed the door on the opportunity offered to him on a golden plate," said Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Abdulnasser Al Mahmeed.

"The offences he committed were huge and we needed an apology, but he refused insisting that he didn't do anything wrong."

He claimed the automatic successor to Dr Abbas, if he loses his court appeal, did not even want the job anymore.

"The replacement doesn't want the seat and is not wanted (by voters)," he said.

"It is almost time for new municipal elections next year. We have taken the initiative to bring him back and done our best, but he refused.

"Dr Abbas said that if the council wanted him to come back, the council would have to pay all of his wages for the period he didn't work - and that's impossible.

"People have to understand that the councillor was willing to come back on the condition that he gets debatable payments, which I actually deserve for doing his work in his absence."

The four Central Municipal Council members whose fate will also be decided today are former vice-chairman Adel Al Sitri, Hussain Al Oraibi, Abdulredha Zuhair and Sadiq Rabea'a.

Their colleagues voted last month to reconsider their future, but nothing appears to have happened since.

No action has been taken against Al Wefaq's 13 other councillors, who have majorities on both the Northern and Manama Municipal Councils. However, former Manama councillor Sadiq Rahma resigned in November following an internal clash with Al Wefaq and was replaced last week by independent candidate Mohammed Al Hawaj.

mohammed@gdn.com.bh



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