Bahrain vows
fair elections

Bahrain’s electoral panel chief has pledged to hold free and fair parliamentary and municipal elections, to be held on Saturday.

By Suad Hamada

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Published: Fri 22 Oct 2010, 12:57 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:25 AM

Campaigning for the elections comes to an end at 8am today. Under the electoral laws, electioneering needs to be concluded 24 hours before polling for municipal and parliamentary elections. Electoral commission chief Abdullah Al Buainain said: “We are determined that the elections should be transparent,” adding that polling stations would be monitored by 379 observers from Bahraini non-governmental organisations.

A total of 318,668 Bahrainis are expected to caste their votes at 49 centres located in five governorates on Saturday. The voting will begin at 8am. The voters will exercise their franchise for 142 parliamentary candidates, including eight women and 182 municipal candidates, including three women.

In the election run-up, the prime minister issued a stern warning to anyone seeking to challenge the current constitution.

“It is unacceptable for anybody to call into question something that was unanimously approved by the Bahraini people,” Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa told Bahraini newspapers.

Efforts by opposition headed by Al Wefaq Political Society and National Action Democratic Society (Waad) to convince the poll panel to cancel the general polling centres or assign representatives of candidates to monitor voting there, have failed.

These centres — one of them is set up at the Bahrain International Airport — are open for all voters regardless of their place of residence, while other polling centres will be devoted to voters who live in same area. The opposition expressed its apprehension that there will be lack of monitoring at the general polling stations. But the government has promised holding of free and fair elections and assured them that voters’ opinions would not be influenced.

This is the third parliamentary and municipal elections in Bahrain since His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa launched reforms involving a new constitution and parliamentary elections a decade ago.

The vote comes in the shadow of a security crackdown on opposition activists in which 23 men were arrested and accused of plotting to overturn the government, partly through instigating street protests.

Shaikh Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, rejected claims that it was a flawed democratic experiment.“It’s an inclusive system. It brings everyone in,” the minister said, adding that the aim was to raise political participation and bridge the sectarian divide. “It’s not a matter of a security crackdown; there were crimes committed that coincided with the elections.”

shamada@khaleejtimes.com



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