Thursday, May 18, 2006

NDI Out of Bahrain: Did they jump or were they pushed?

The NDI departure from Bahrain: Did they jump or were they pushed?

Abduljalil Alsingace

17th May 2006

After working relentlessly over four years with the political (civic) organizations, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has been expelled from Bahrain in a dubious manner. NDI has managed to ‘convince’ those boycotting to declare participating in the next pseudo election, although reasons behind their posture has not altered. NDI has helped those societies to change their views and political stands and reconciled them with those of the ruling family. Isn’t it bizarre that after all these efforts, NDI representative be treated as a renegade?

The NDI spent money, time and efforts to promote the political programme attributed to Sheikh Hamad before the announcement by the authorities that their office would be closed down on a trivial matter; that they had refused to register with the authorities. On the face of it, it appears that they left their work to be carried out by the newly-formed Bahrain Institute for Political Development, a body that is funded by the government. After five years of relentless efforts, the NDI, a world renowned organization backed by recognized and powerful figures in USA, have reportedly been asked to leave everything behind and while being attacked by the state media. Isn’t it a peculiar for strongly-backed Institute to keep silent as a response to the humiliating way NDI left Bahrain?

NDI is yet to make it clear whether it backs true political reforms being demanded by civic societies, and therefore condemn the expulsion of its representative considering it a stupid act of regression and backtracking on openness and reform. If no clarification is issued by the NDI on the real reasons behind their departure, they risk being accused of deception and lack of professionalism. They would be seen by the people as backing an autocratic and despotic regime, contrary to their mission statement. Without a strong stance denouncing their ‘expulsion’ the NDI would be viewed as culprits in the heinous acts of the ruling family against the people of Bahrain.