Bahrain’s House of Representatives on Tuesday accepted the resignation of the opposition Members of the Parliament (MEPs), the state-run BNA news agency reported.
The resignations were submitted in February by MEPs of the opposition Al Wefaq, the country’s largest Shia opposition party, in protest to the government’s violent crackdown of protesters.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives announced the decision of accepting the resignation of all MEPs affiliated with Al Wefaq. This left Bahrain’s 40-seat lower house with only 22 members, all of them Sunnis.
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa directly appoints the 40 members of the upper house. In this way, there is not Shia representatives left in the government. Two-thirds of Bahrain’s population is Shiite.
The Middle Eastern country has been ruled by a 200-year-old Sunni dynasty. Social unrest began after protesters called for a “Day of Rage” on February 14 to mark the 10th anniversary of the National Action Charter, which returned the country to constitutional rule after the 1990s uprisings.
Initially, people took to the streets to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy, but later they began to call for the removal of the royal Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family, which has ruled the country for almost 40 years.
In mid-March, Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) troops arrived to Bahrain to help protecting the country following weeks of violent protests. King Al Khalifa said that the current state of emergency will be lifted on June 1.
Bahraini authorities have been persecuting activists and opposition in order to avoid further unrest. So far, at least 21 people have been prosecuted for organizing and participating protests which are considered a plot against the state.
According to Bahrain, the number of people in detention was listed at 400, but the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had received information that the figure may be higher than 1,000, while more than 50 people remain unaccounted for.