In a nationwide address on Monday, Bahrain's king called on political parties planning to boycott the Persian Gulf nation's first parliamentary elections in nearly three decades to reverse their decision.
At least four parties, including the influential Shiite Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, said they would boycott Thursday's polls because they are unhappy with Bahrain's new constitution, according to The Associated Press.
Al-Wefaq's concerns about the constitution focus on recently adopted amendments under which a council appointed by King Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will have as much power as the elected legislature.
"What shall fathers and mothers say to their sons tomorrow if we boycott the future?" the king said during a televised address. The monarch's remarks made no direct mention of the boycotting parties, however it was apparent that he was addressing them.
"It is not a delight to see certain people distance themselves from the process, but it would be my happiness and the happiness of every Bahraini man and woman to see the people participating," he expressed.
In the meantime, however, the king's speech, had no immediate impact on the most influential of the four boycotting parties. "There will be no change in our situation ... we will continue our stance because nothing has changed as we would have liked it to," said Sheik Ali Salman, leader of Al-Wefaq Society, which enjoys strong support amongst Bahrain's Shiite Muslims.
Meanwhile, Bahrainis living abroad started casting their votes on Monday at some 23 embassies and consulates around the world. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )