On Nov. 29, Bahrain concluded its first full legislative election since the Persian Gulf kingdom’s popular uprising began in February 2011. The main controversy both before and after the vote has turned on the question of participation by the main opposition Shiite bloc al-Wefaq, whose 18 members of parliament resigned en masse from the 40-seat lower house in the early days of the uprising over the state’s deadly response to mass demonstrations. The group has remained on the political sidelines ever since, helping to organize a continuing if steadily weakening protest movement. In the end, al-Wefaq opted to continue its electoral boycott, having secured no meaningful political concessions to offer its increasingly disillusioned constituents as justification for rejoining what remains in any case a largely impotent parliament. Thus loath to return to the status quo ante after nearly four years of bitter struggle, al-Wefaq’s decision to abstain from the 2014 vote was made difficult only by concerted governmental (as well as Western diplomatic) pressure, including the threat of wholesale dissolution stemming from an ongoing court case brought by the Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa.
Articles about voting issues in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
A Bahraini group monitoring the country’s recent election claims some voters were bribed with cash to vote for certain candidates. Bahrain Dialogue Society vice-president Rashid Al Ghayeb called on authorities to investigated allegations it received from several voters relating to both the first and second rounds of voting. He said other alleged violations included election staff using their mobile phones rather than assisting voters, no provisions in some centres for veiled female voters and some candidates continuing to campaign during the 24-hour ban leading up to the election. “In some centres, our monitors saw voters indicating to the candidate they have voted for him,” Al Ghayeb was quoted as saying by Gulf Daily News.
Bahrani troops have attacked people protesting the Al Khalifa regime security forces’ storming of a prominent cleric’s home, amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent. On Tuesday, the regime’s forces used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse protesters gathered on the streets of Diraz and Sadad, denouncing the raid on the house of Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Ahmed Qassem on Saturday. Witnesses said the regime forces took photos of the ID cards of all those present in the house in Diraz, west of the capital Manama.
Bahrainis have voted in legislative elections, the first since 2011 street protests, but the Shia opposition that led the pro-democracy movement did not take part in the vote. The government kept polling centres open for two more hours than planned, until 19:00 GMT, due to the massive voter turnout. The turnout is no more than 30 percent and 80 percent of the voters are military and government personnel in the security and public sector. Sheikh Ali Salman, general secretary of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society The Gulf state’s electorate of almost 350,000 were called to choose 40 deputies, with most of the 266 candidates being Sunnis. Al-Wefaq, the main opposition group, warned that failure by the kingdom’s rulers to loosen their grip on power could trigger a surge in violence.
Bahraini people will go to the polls for a second time next week as the fate of only six out of forty seats of the country’s parliament has been decided in the legislative election recently held in the Persian Gulf kingdom. Bahrain’s official electoral commission said on Sunday that only six candidates, five Sunnis and one Shia, managed to secure seats at the parliament as a result of the vote, which was held despite widespread opposition on Saturday. “Around 260 candidates will contest the remaining 34 seats on November 29,” Bahrain’s Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa said. Some 350,000 eligible Bahrainis had been called to choose 40 legislators from among 266 mostly Sunni candidates.
Tiny Gulf monarchy Bahrain holds elections on Saturday but with the opposition boycotting there seems little hope of an end to political deadlock in the key US ally. Bahrain remains divided nearly four years after security forces in the kingdom clamped down on protests led by demonstrators taking their cue from the Arab Spring uprisings. The opposition is demanding a “real” constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister who is independent from the ruling royal family. But the Al-Khalifa dynasty has refused to yield. Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and is one of several Arab states supporting US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, making it a vital Western ally. Turnout on Saturday is likely to be low as the main opposition party has already called for a boycott.
Bahraini authorities have arrested 13 women in a crackdown on activists calling for an anti-regime referendum during the upcoming parliamentary election, activists said on Sunday. Most of the arrests took place last week after the interior ministry accused activists of “preparing an anti-regime referendum on the day of the legislative elections,” one activist told AFP on condition of anonymity. Two of the women were released while the remaining 11 have been kept in custody for a week for questioning, the source said. Several men were also arrested, activists said, adding however that the majority of those held are women. King Hamad set elections for a new 40-seat lower house of parliament for November 22, the first such polls since 2011 Shiite-led protests calling for democratic reforms in the Sunni-ruled Gulf state. Municipal polls will be held simultaneously. Most opposition groups, led by the main Shiite bloc Al-Wefaq, have announced they will boycott the November polls.
The Council of Representatives in Bahrain has decided to exclude three people with dual Bahraini and Saudi citizenship from running for seats on the body in the forthcoming elections. The 40-member council is the lower house of the Bahraini Parliament and the main legislative body. The elections take place on Nov. 22. The body reportedly said recently that the three people who were rejected first had Saudi citizenship and then later acquired their Bahraini citizenship, which disqualifies them from standing as candidates under provisions of the country’s constitution. These provisions apply to all people who have citizenship of other foreign states, it said.
A lack of enthusiasm among Bahrainis for this month’s elections has been blamed for the limited number of citizens who have signed up to become poll monitors. So far just 30 people have put their names forward to work with anti-corruption watchdog the Bahrain Transparency Society – a fifth of the total that signed up to become observers in the 2010 elections. Its president Abdulnabi Al Ekry claims the opposition boycott is to blame for this apparent apathy among Bahrainis, an apathy that could hamstring his society’s ability to properly monitor the polls. “Compared to previous elections, this time we are noticing a drop in the number of monitors because of the boycott calls and also because of restrictions by officials,” he said. “This election is peculiar with its string of volatile accusations and counter-accusations constantly made by groups from all sides.
Bahraini and international women’s advocates praised the victory of three women in the special parliamentary elections in the embattled Gulf island nation. The women’s victory brings the number of women now sitting in the 40-seat assembly to four. The special elections were held on September 24 and October 1.