Bahrain poll results out, without opposition
Bahraini voters head to the polls disregarding the absence of two major opposition groups.
Six candidates, including one woman, won seats in Bahrain's parliamentary election's first round, while others will compete for the remaining 34 seats in the main event next week, officials announced Sunday.
Voters cast their ballots on Saturday, despite the absence of two major opposition groups that were unjustly dissolved by the Bahraini regime years ago.
Justice Minister Nawaf bin Mohammed Al-Maawda claimed that the turnout in the poll, which was contested by a record number of candidates, was 73%. This was "the highest participation rate since 2002," he said, further claiming that "no violations (..) were recorded."
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More than 330 candidates, including a record 73 women, are vying for a seat on the council of representatives, the lower house of parliament that advises King Hamad, who has reigned since his father's death in March 1999.
This is up from the 293 people -- including 41 women -- who ran for parliament in the last election in 2018. The results showed that six candidates, five men, and one woman, won seats on Sunday, while the remaining seats will be contested in a run-off next Saturday.
The two main opposition parties, Al-Wefaq and Waad, were barred from fielding candidates. Both of these parties were dissolved in 2016 and 2017. This is the third election since the 2011 protests calling for a constitutional monarchy and other political reforms.
Politically repressed elections
Amnesty International said ahead of the poll that the elections were taking place in an "environment of political repression."
The parliamentary elections in Bahrain, which are scheduled for November 12, are taking place amid a climate of political repression after a decade in which the government has violated human rights, restricted civil society, outlawed political opposition parties, and shut down independent media, Amnesty International reported two days ago.
The Bahraini regime ramped up a campaign to eliminate political opposition from 2016 onward, banning opposition political parties that had existed legally before the uprising in 2011. Major opposition parties, independent media outlets, and well-known opposition leaders have all been declared illegal by the government.
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As a result, Bahrain currently lacks any political opposition figures who are not in prison, as well as any independent media that would be willing to publicly criticize the government.
A government spokesperson pushed back against that criticism on Saturday. "Requirements include not having a criminal record or not belonging to a society dissolved due to their court-proven involvement in acts of violence in contravention of legitimate political activity," he said.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has normalized ties with the Israeli occupation in a deal brokered by the US.
'Exposing the falsity of the electoral process'
In this context, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi, announced that his party is boycotting the general elections in Bahrain.
The reasons justifying the boycott are diverse but mainly concern the failure to implement a crucial reform, ongoing political repression in the country, and authorizing the zionist entity to meddle with the country's domestic affairs.
Earlier, on September 14, Al-Daihi said that "the participation rate in the sham parliamentary elections did not exceed 35%," thanking the Bahraini people for "exposing the falsity of the electoral process despite the threats and intimidation."
"Bahrainis are living under the weight of a stifling political crisis and grave human rights violations, and they are committed to the need for a genuine political process that will lift Bahrain out of tyranny and dictatorship and take it to a democratic system and social justice," Al-Daihi added in a speech on Saturday.