Bahrain’s second largest Shiite society denies claims it is working on an elections deal with Al Wefaq

June 30, 2010
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The Islamic Action Society, the second largest Shiite political and religious formation in Bahrain, has denied claims it was working on a deal with Al Wefaq, the country’s largest society, to secure seats in the forthcoming parliamentary and municipality elections.
“We have heard rumours that our society is striking a deal with Al Wefaq so that we support them in the parliamentary elections while they back us up in the municipal polls,” Mohammad Al Mahfoodh, the secretary general of the Islamic Action Society, said. “That is simply not true. In fact, we have not yet decided whether we will be taking part in the elections. The fact that we have not announced our final stance does not necessarily that we are maneuvering with Al Wefaq to reach an accord,” he said.
Al Mahfoodh’s denial was a blow to claims that the two Shiite societies were able to overcome past divergences and were getting closer to forming a strong front.
The Islamic Action Society expressed bitter disappointment in 2006 that there was no mutual support with Al Wefaq which refused to give up any of its “secure” constituencies and went on to win 17 of the 40 seats in the lower chamber. However, Al Wefaq’s landslide victory came afterwards under fire from the society’s main allies who blamed the society’s leaders for not offering them the opportunity to share the spoils and help them enter the parliament.
Hope that the situation would change and that Al Wefaq would give the Islamic Action Society an opportunity in the 2010 elections slated for this autumn seems to have been shattered by Al Mahfood’s denial of cooperation.
Earlier this month, the two main Sunni societies, Al Asala, the flagship of Salafis in Bahrain, and the Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that they were again coordinating their stances to ensure a higher number of seats than the 15 they have together at the lower chamber.
The two societies worked out a deal in 2006 and initial doubts this year that they would not cooperate this time were dismissed by their leaders who said that they had agreed on a general framework and that their committees would work out the finer details.
Liberals have been talking about cooperation and coordination in an attempt to break the hegemony of Islamists on the lower chamber. However, no accord has been announced yet.

         

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About the author

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

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