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Bahrain Shia Opposition Bloc Boycott Elections

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TEHRAN, Aug 13 (ICANA) – Bahrain’s largest Shia opposition group said on Friday it would boycott parliamentary elections to fill seats vacated when its deputies resigned over the Sunni-led kingdom’s crackdown on anti-government protests.
Saturday, August 13, 2011 12:35:27 PM
Bahrain Shia Opposition Bloc Boycott Elections

The move follows a “National Dialogue” that the monarchy — which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet — organized to defuse tension after the crackdown, in which thousands were detained and allegations of torture were rampant, Reuters reported.

The opposition bloc, Wefaq, pulled out of the dialogue as well, which led to the king expanding the powers of the elected parliament last month while reserving the broader power of an upper chamber that his court selects.

“We decided to boycott because we are no longer convinced of the authority of this parliament,” said Khalil al-Marzouq of Wefaq, whose 18 deputies resigned in February.

“It no longer had any popular legitimacy.” The elections are scheduled for September 24.

Wefaq’s MPs quit as Bahrain moved to quash the protests, which were led by its Shia majority and called for broader political liberties and an end to sectarian discrimination. A few Shia groups sought to abolish the monarchy.

The kingdom in March called in troops from fellow Sunni-led monarchies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to crush the protests, detaining more than a thousand people, at least four of whom died in custody.

Bahrain’s Shia say they are systematically denied access to land and employment, and point to the naturalization of Sunni Muslims from other countries, some of whom serve in the security forces, as proof of a policy of sectarian rule.

The kingdom is now hosting a delegation of international law experts to investigate the protests and their aftermath.

Two former Wefaq MPs detained following the protests were released last week, as part of a group of 137 detainees set free. Some of those released may still face prosecution




Bahraini bicameral legislature (National Council of Bahrain) consists of the Consultative Council (40 members appointed by the King) and the Council of Representatives or Chamber of Deputies (40 seats; members directly elected to serve four-year terms).

Parliamentary elections are held every four years. The first parliamentary election in Bahrain was held in 2002 and the latest in November 2010.

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