Bahrain by-elections, 1 in 5 vote

2011-09-25 20:43

kalahari.com

  • Uprising
    Will Emerging Markets Shape or Shake the World Economy? Now R350.00
    buy now

Manama - Fewer than one in five voters cast ballots in Bahraini by-elections this weekend, a government website showed, after the Shi'ite majority in the Gulf Arab state boycotted the polls following the crushing of a protest movement this year.

Eighteen parliamentary seats were vacated by the largest opposition party Wefaq after security forces killed protesters at the start of pro-democracy demonstrations in February.

In 14 districts, only 25 130 voters of a total 144 513 came out to vote, representing a 17.4% turnout, according to figures published on the government's elections website www.vote.bh. All of the candidates are independents who would have found victory a tall order without the boycott.

Voting did not take place in four districts where candidates were running uncontested and automatically won the seat.

The low turnout was a victory for Wefaq which called on voters to boycott the by-elections. Wefaq had predicted a 15%t turnout and the government had said it was hoping for at least 30%.

In the United Arab Emirates, a nearby Gulf country that also held elections for an advisory council on Saturday, voter turnout was below expectations at 28%.

After calling in Saudi troops and introducing martial law to quell the protests, the government instituted a national dialogue that has proposed reforms that opposition groups say fall short of their demands for a democratic transition.

The proposals allow for increased parliamentary monitoring of government ministers, but does not give the elected body real legislative powers.

PM for 40 years

King Hamad bin Isa appoints an upper house and his uncle Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman has been prime minister for four decades. Bahrain, an island state that hosts the US Fifth Fleet, remains deeply divided.

The Sunni Muslim monarchy says the protest movement and opposition groups had a Shi'ite sectarian agenda and were acting in co-ordination with non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

The opposition denies this and says the claim is an excuse to avoid the ruling elite giving up their monopoly on power.

The Justice Minister said the turnout had been a victory for Bahrainis against "sectarian division".

"There is a popular will to create the present and the future and challenge the sectarian division that some want to create," Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa told reporters on Saturday evening, adding some people had been arrested for attempting to disrupt voting.

"We are not in a political crisis, but we have a problem in Bahrain and the main issue is how to move forward."

But Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman, a Shi'ite cleric, said the results showed Bahrainis rejected the king's reforms and the government faced a stark choice between a move to democracy or "dictatorship".

"There is no such thing as 'Bahraini democracy', there has to be peaceful rotation of power," he told a news conference at Wefaq headquarters in Manama.

"If there is no transition, Bahrain will remain in a crisis of security and human rights. This is a historic moment."

Though martial law ended in May, clashes continue almost nightly in many Shi'ite areas of the country, whose profile as a banking hub has been dented by the turmoil.

Michael Stephens, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Qatar, said the election amounted to a referendum on the king's national dialogue and now the country faced a dangerous stalemate.

"Given what King Hamad has said about the urgent nature of reforms, the question is if he can deliver. If he doesn't then I think Bahrain's in serious trouble," he said. "You'll see an escalation of violence."

Read more on:    bahrain  |  uprisings  |  bahrain protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Power and leadership are emphasized today. It is important to strategize and delegate well otherwise you may end up with too much...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.