Bahrainis vote for new parliament
Bahrain's voters early Sunday started picking a new parliament after months of unrest in the kingdom. Voting stations are open until Saturday evening.
The voting for the 40-seat parliament comes amid a crackdown by Sunni rulers against Shi'ites accused of trying to destabilise the country. Bahrain's majority Shi'ites say they only seek greater rights.
It is the third polls since a parliamentary system was reinstated in the kingdom in 2002.
Voters should be 20 years or above and registered in the voters list. More than 318,000 Bahrainis are eligible to vote in the parliamentary elections to choose 35 of the 40 members of the house.
The other five seats were filled by unopposed candidates.
Voting is being held at 49 polling stations around the country. A total of 127 candidates, including eight women, are running in the elections. One of the female candidates, outgoing MP Latifa al-Qouhoud, has already secured an uncontested seat.
In addition to the elected parliament, the king appoints members of the 40-strong consultative council, or the upper chamber, which can block legislation from the lower house.
The Shi'ite mainstream opposition, the Al-Wefaq group, which boycotted the first elections, posted a sweeping victory in 2006, grabbing 17 seats. It is fielding 18 candidates in this parliamentary election, as its head, Sheikh Ali Salman, demanded easing the ruling family's grip on power.