Results from Bahrain's first legislative elections in nearly 30 years showed a mix of secularist and Islamic fundamentalist candidates winning seats, with two women securing places in run-off polls, officials said Friday, according to AP.
The election was a milestone for women as it marked the first time they had been allowed to vote and run for national office in an Arab Gulf nation.
The Justice Ministry said that 19 candidates had been elected to the 40-seat parliament, including three who ran unopposed. The remaining 21 seats will be decided in run-off elections scheduled for Oct. 31. No woman won outright in Thursday's polls, but two women are among the 42 candidates who will contest the run-offs.
Hundreds of Bahrainis drove around the capital in the dark hours of Friday morning after Information Minister Nabil al-Hamer said the turnout was 53.2 percent.
"This is a yes vote for democracy," said Al Hamer. "This is an endorsement of Bahrain's citizens of the great democratic reforms initiated by His Majesty the King." "The people of Bahrain have totally rejected the boycott group's call," he remarked.
The turnout was a blow to the political groups, including an influential Shiite Muslim organization, that had called for a boycott on grounds that the political reform process did not go far enough. It was also a slight improvement on the 51 percent recorded in the municipal elections held in May.
It was difficult to say whether secular or Islamic fundamentalist candidates were in the majority of the 19 elected legislators as most are new faces whose views are not known outside their districts. At least seven of the new legislators are known to be Islamic fundamentalists. The remaining 12 ran as independents, suggesting they are likely to be of secular orientation as they were not backed by Islamic groups. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )