Al Wefaq denies it sought British assistance to change constituencies

March 11, 2010

Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest parliamentary bloc, has denied claims that it had sought British assistance to help alter the boundaries of the constituencies and ensure a grater number of votes in the forthcoming elections.

The society is currently at the centre of a political storm after it was accused of breaching the constitution for calling for changes in Bahrain’s political regime and for holding an alleged secret meeting with the British ambassador soon after it waded into controversy. Al Wefaq denied both charges, claiming they were part of a malicious drive against it ahead of the national polls.

Several MPs and columnists have condemned the British envoy for his alleged interference in Bahrain’s domestic affairs, a charge that he has rejected in a meeting with Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa.

On Wednesday, a columnist wrote that Al Wefaq discussed with the British ambassador how his embassy could assist in changing the constituencies.

“The claim is baseless and full of lies. Al Wefaq has nothing to hide and does not have to explain its attitude,” a spokesman for the society said. “Unfortunately, there are people who are not keen on national unity and social cohesion.”

Bahrain is divided in 40 single-seat constituencies where candidates with the highest votes are elected for a four-year term. Several opposition groups have called for setting one common constituency for the country, but the suggestion has been regularly rejected as “impractical and unworkable.”

Al Wefaq has 17 of the 40 seats in the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament. The society boycotted the 2002 elections, the first to be held after a three-decade hiatus. However, it reversed its stance in 2006 and carried all but one of the constituencies where it fielded candidates, all males. It then refused to partner with other opposition societies to allow them to win some of the “secure” seats. This year, it has again indicated that it would not engage in any alliance with other formations, despite close cooperation on several issues.

The legislative elections are expected to be held either in October or November.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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