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Bahrain opposition groups to boycott upcoming elections

Bahraini opposition groups call for democratic reforms [Pacific Press/Getty]

Date of publication: 13 October, 2014

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First elections since 2011 protests for a new 40-seat parliament.

Bahraini opposition groups have announced their intention to boycott parliamentary elections in November. 

Four opposition parties, including the main Shia movement, Al-Wefaq, said that participation in the vote would legitimise the cementing of "totalitarian" Sunni rule in the island kingdom.

"This election is a government election," said Ali Salman, the head of Al-Wefaq. "We are boycotting because we want our legislative rights - rights that still do not exist."

Al-Wefaq has gained popularity since leading demonstrations against Bahrain's autocratic rulers in 2011.

It withdrew its 18 lawmakers from the 40-seat lower house of parliament during the height of the unrest, as authorities cracked down hard on dissent.

Bahrain has faced more than three years of unrest after the Shia-dominated opposition movement - inspired by the Arab Spring protests - took to the streets demanding greater political rights.

    
This election is a
government election...
We are boycotting
because we want our
legislative rights.
 - Ali Salman, opposition leader

The authorities moved to crush the uprising with the help of security forces from Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring Gulf countries.

National dialogue

The opposition took part in two rounds of dialogue after the uprising but withdrew from the talks, saying the authorities were not making enough concessions.

In September, al-Wefaq rejected a government offer to re-launch the talks.

Salman said that the core elements of the proposal meant that the royal family would retain all power.

Bahrain "must engage in serious negotiations" before any elections, said the opposition groups.

They also vowed to pursue peaceful protests in Bahrain until their demands were met.

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