Boycott Overshadows Bahrain Election

Boycott Overshadows Bahrain ElectionBoycott Overshadows Bahrain Election

Bahrain is holding its first parliamentary elections since anti-government protests broke out in 2011 as opposition groups stage a boycott, saying the vote is an attempt to establish “absolute rule”.

Disenchanted protesters took to the streets of the capital, Manama, in 2011 to demand greater civil rights.

But the protests were stamped out when the government, backed by Saudi tanks, moved in to crush dissent.

Talks to resolve the situation have since collapsed and unrest has continued.

 ‘Sham’ Election

Some 350,000 people are eligible to vote, choosing 40 legislators from among 266 mostly Sunni candidates, according to the BBC.

A coalition of opposition groups said it would boycott Saturday’s legislative and municipal elections.

The alliance, which includes al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s most popular opposition group, has called the poll a “sham”.

It has also demanded an elected prime minister who is independent from the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy.

“These elections are destined to fail because the government is incapable of addressing the political crisis,” al-Wefaq member Abdul-Jalil Khalil told the Associated Press news agency.

Bahraini Information Minister Sameera Ebrahim Bin Rajab said that the “door to dialogue will never be shut, including with al-Wefaq” but added: “Violence is not allowed. It is tantamount to terrorism.”

Bahrain is of key strategic importance to Washington and hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The election will also be closely watched by Saudi Arabia.