For the first time since 1973: Bahrain holds legislative elections
Bahrain held its first legislative elections in nearly 30 years Thursday, with supporters hailing the ballot as an important step toward democracy but Shiite Muslim groups criticizing it for not going far enough.
Voters will choose 40 members of parliament in the first legislative election since 1973. However, four political groups, including the Shiite Muslim Al-Wefaq movement, called for a boycott to protest a constitutional amendment giving a council appointed by ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as much power as the assembly.
Thursday's ballot for the bicameral legislature is part of a process initiated by Sheikh Hamad after he assumed the throne in 1999 following his father's demise. Municipal elections were held in last May.
There are 243,400 eligible voters, more than 50 per cent of whom are women. Three candidates have been elected unopposed, leaving 174, eight of them are women, to contest the remaining 37 seats in the House of Deputies. The seats carry four-year terms. The new parliament will have 80 members, half elected and the rest appointed by the king to a Consultative Council.
Polling is from 8am to 8pm, at 37 polling stations in five governorates and 15 general centres in public places. "Votes will be counted in all the 52 polling stations and initial results will be communicated to the main polling station in each of the five governorates," said elections executive director Shaikh Ahmed bin Ateyatalla Al Khalifa, according to The Gulf Daily News.
Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said Wednesday Bahrain's municipal councils have a key role to play in the nation's development. He said the kingdom's building programs were being upgraded continuously to accommodate increases in population and development in new areas. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)