Shia opposition to boycott Bahrain polls

Parties announce decision to boycott next month’s parliamentary vote, saying it would cement absolute authoritarianism.

Bahrain's Shia opposition have been staging regular protests since 2011 [Reuters]

Bahrain’s Shia-led opposition has said it will boycott parliamentary elections planned for next month, saying the vote would cement “absolute authoritarianism” in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Four opposition groups, including the main Shia movement Al-Wefaq, said on Saturday that they would pursue “peaceful protests” instead, until their demand for a constitutional monarchy was achieved.

The Gulf kingdom had scheduled elections for a new 40-seat lower house of parliament on November 22, the first since protests rocked the country in 2011.

The opposition groups denounced the planned elections as “a new autocratic step” by the government and urged Bahrainis to join the boycott.

“The fact that the authority has taken this decision… [is] a new autocratic step added to its continuous persistence to maintain its totalitarian rule,” it said.

In a statement published on twitter, Al-Wefaq accused Bahraini authorities of not representing “the will of the people,” calling it “absolute authoritarianism.”

A proposal by authorities in September to relaunch a national dialogue was given a frosty reception by Al-Wefaq.

Bahrain’s opposition is demanding an independent election commission and the dissolution of the Consultative Council, parliament’s upper chamber whose members are appointed by the king.

They are also demanding the prime minister be appointed by parliamentary majority, instead of the king.

Source: News Agencies