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Bahrain to Replace Opposition MPs

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TEHRAN, May 30 (ICANA) – Bahrain is planning to hold parliamentary elections in September to replace a number of lawmakers who resigned in protest at Manama's crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Monday, May 30, 2011 9:14:59 PM
Bahrain to Replace Opposition MPs

Bahrain's Justice Minister Khaled Bin Ali Al Khalifa announced on Monday that the first round of vote to fill the 18 vacant seats in the lower house of parliament (Council of Representatives) will be held on September 24 and the second round on October 1.

Eighteen Bahraini lawmakers from the main Shia opposition party, al-Wefaq, walked out of the parliament in February after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters, killing and wounding scores of them.

The 40-seat house accepted the resignation of 11 of the 18 lawmakers in March and the resignation of the remaining seven were accepted in mid-May.

The Bahraini government has barred those lawmakers who resigned from running for the by-elections, but al-Wefaq can nominate new candidates.

The opposition party, however, says it is not planning to take part in the upcoming by-elections.

Former lawmakers, Matar Matar and Jawad Fayruz, were taken away by unknown gunmen earlier this month, according to the opposition, soon after losing parliamentary immunity.

Since the beginning of anti-government protests across Bahrain in mid-February, security forces have arrested hundreds of opposition leaders and activists, who are now being tried in a special court on charges including attempting to topple the monarchy and forming a terrorist group.

Sheikh Ali Salman, head of al-Wefaq, on Saturday urged Manama to stop its brutal crackdown on civilians, saying political reform is the only way to move forward.

"Security (forces) will not bring the solution ... without political reform, this bad situation will continue and there will not be real stability," Salman said.

Al-Wefaq leader added that a recent survey shows the majority of the protesters seek political reforms and a constitutional monarchy.

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