Ballot in Bahrain

As Manama readies to hold its third elections in a decade, it is fraught with challenges and concerns. The tiny Gulf Arab country’s desire to see a representative dispensation at work is most welcome.

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Published: Sat 23 Oct 2010, 10:13 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:48 PM

This is an outcome of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s wide-ranging reforms package that involves a new constitution as well. The fledgling democracy in Bahrain has indeed empowered the people, which is evident from the host of protests and demands for more freedom in the kingdom. While polling to the municipal and parliamentary seats has come in the shadow of a security crackdown on opposition activists, in which many have been arrested under charges as severe as plotting to overthrow the government, the outcome of verdict in a peaceful manner will be quite reassuring and consoling for the silent majority of people. It is hoped that the new elected representatives would be able to raise political participation and bridge any sectarian divide. Bahrain’s enterprising society, by entrusting its belief in the culture of ballot, has inevitably made a point. The opposition, whatever its grievances may be, has no other recourse but to exhibit political maturity, and desist from resorting to emotional tactics of protest and unrest.

The government’s eagerness to ensure transparency at polls is highly appreciated. The fact that more than 400 observers from reputed non-governmental organisations would monitor polling stations hints at the importance that the royalty underscores in the evolving system of governance. The region’s lone constitutional monarchy deserves the credit for granting enough breathing space for the opposition, which is evident from the participation in polls of many of the estranged elements in their pursuit of achieving their goals through legal and political means. The country that is base for the United States Fifth Fleet in the region cannot afford to be bogged down in confrontations and divisive politics. Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who has urged people to turnout in huge manners at the polls, is right when he says that this ballot exercise is an opportunity to reassert the sense of national belonging. Sections of society who have exhibited parochial attitude for the sake of opposition need to take a cue.

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