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Bahrain opposition calls on UN to investigate "Bandargate" scandal

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday November 15, 2006

London- A Bahraini opposition movement Haq (Right) called on the United Nations Wednesday to investigate allegations that a secret government grouping has been conspiring to fuel sectarian tensions and rig the results of upcoming parliamentary and municipal elections. In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and delivered to Sayed Aqa, the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Bahrain coordinator, Haq called for the forming of an international fact- finding committee to scrutinize the claims made in an August report by the Gulf Centre for Democratic Development (GCDD).

The 240-page report, dubbed BandarGate after its co-author Salah al-Bandar - a Briton of Sudanese origin who was deported in September to Britain after its publication - alleged that a ring masterminded by a government minister was secretly planning to manipulate the demographic makeup of the country, through the selective granting of citizenship.

The act of selectively granting citizenship would be carried out under the guise of creating a Shiite-Sunni balance in the country but would in fact weaken the Shiite population, 70 per cent of Bahrainis.

The report documented payments of more than 2 million bahraini dinars (5 million dollars) to government workers, journalists, members of the lower and upper houses of parliament, civil society groups, lawyers, bank officials and a Jordanian intelligence team.

It also alleged financing for election campaigns and funding for a newly established pro-government newspaper that has been accused of stoking sectarianism.

Haq's letter also called on the UN to ensure that Bahrain complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it acceded in September, and for a review of Bahrain's human rights record in line with its membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

Haq spokesman Abduljalil Alsingace told Deutsche Presse-Agentur

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency