Islamic Groups Hint At Boycotting Bahraini Elections
The Bahraini government has called on all citizens to turn out in large numbers for the municipal elections scheduled to be held on May 9, however, sources say that some of the opposition groups are hinting at boycotting the elections.
"Some of these groups are not happy with the constitutional amendments. They feel they have to stick to this position in order to retain their credibility," sources in the Islamic opposition told Gulf News on Monday, on condition of anonymity.
Political activists also criticized the municipal election laws, which divide the island into five electoral districts, each with a municipal council of ten members.
The activists say that some areas are larger than others. "How can they then have the same number of representatives," the sources said, adding that opposition groups were "surprised" by the government statement.
"No one bothered to ask for their opinions," the sources claimed.
Meanwhile, other groups decided to take part in the municipal elections. "We are in," Ali Rabi'ah of the National Democratic Action Society (NDA) said on Monday.
"But as far as the parliamentary elections, we haven't decided yet," he said adding that the NDA, a leftist Pan-Arab nationalist group will not take "any decision before full consultation with all other opposition groups".
Rabi'ah said talks are underway between the groups to deal with the question of the constitutional changes, announced recently by Bahraini King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. "Some suggest that we send a letter to the King urging him to introduce a solution suitable to all," he said.
Another group, the Islamic National Alwefaq Society, one of the most active political associations, had expressed its concern about "the mechanism in which the constitution was amended".
"The amendments themselves do not fulfill the demands of the Bahraini people who look forward to an enduring and stable democratic life that would allow the people to exercise the legitimate right of full and active participation in the political life," Alwefaq said in a statement on February 20, criticizing the grant of legislative powers to the appointed Shura Council.
Nevertheless, Alwefaq said it "will work with other elements of the civic society toward achieving new democratic rights for our people through legitimate and peaceful means provided by the law." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)