Al Asala leader rules out alliance with liberals ahead of today’s poll

October 30, 2010
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http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/al-asala-leader-rules-out-alliance-with-liberals-ahead-of-today-s-poll-1.703756

Adel Al Mouawda, a prominent politician from Al Asala, the Salafi society, has ruled out an alliance with liberals ahead of the second round of elections today in Bahrain.

“The allegations that I was working out a deal with the liberals are unfounded and lack credibility,” Al Mouawda said. “There is no change in the policy or alliances of Al Asala. The society will always adhere to its convictions and values regardless of developments.”

Reports about a possible alliance between the conservative Islamist society and Bahrain’s largest liberal formation surfaced on Wednesday after Al Mouawda, who was re-elected to a record third term, was seen at a public meeting with Ebrahim Sharif, the head of the National Democratic Action Society, Waad.

Both Al Asala and Waad fared badly in the first round on October 23 with the Islamist society carrying only two constituencies and Waad losing one candidate and pushing two to the second round.

But while the results were expected for Waad, a society that failed to win any seat in 2006 despite putting forward six candidates, Al Asala’s fall from grace came as a surprise to most in Bahrain.

The formation was the second largest party in the lower chamber government, which ruled from 2006 to 2010. It had eight politicians and its chairman was the first deputy speaker. No motion could be pushed through or stalled without the support of Al Asala during that time.

The party’s crushing defeat was largely attributed to a lack of cooperation with the Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which fared so badly in the first round that none of its eight candidates won. It now hopes to capitalise on the presence of five candidates in the second round to recover some lost honour. Al Menbar had seven politicians in the 2006 -2010 government and six in the 2002-2006 government.

Better score

Now, in an attempt to limit damage control, both societies have decided to coordinate their positions to ensure a better score in the second round.

However, Al Mouawda has insisted that the party will not form an alliance with any other.

“As already stated Al Asala’s positions are clear and cannot be misinterpreted. We do not have a secret agenda. We have already announced that we will be supporting Ali Ahmad from Al Menbar in the third constituency of Muharraq and Eisa Al Qadi, an independent candidate, in the fourth constituency of the Central Governorate,” he said.

Ali Ahmad is running against Ebrahim Sharif and Eisa Al Qadi is competing with Waad’s nominee, Muneera Fakhroo, the only woman to be supported by a political society in the elections.

Al Mouawda also denied claims that he’s been secretly meeting Ali Salman, the head of Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest political society, which has just won in 18 constituencies.

“I have not seen Shaikh Ali Salman since the end of the legislative term, and even if I did see him, there is nothing wrong with meeting him. It is normal for political parties to meet, even if they have vastly different views. Meeting someone from Al Wefaq does not mean that we have changed our convictions or that we are adopting Al Wefaq’s views. Unfortunately, such baseless allegations of new alliances, agendas or arrangements are ugly,” he said.

Al Mouawda last week told Gulf News that Bahrainis would not vote for a liberal candidate in the 2010 elections because it would clash with their views and convictions.

“Bahrainis are deeply committed to their religion and will not support people who do not share their convictions,” he said.

Al Asala has repeatedly claimed it opposes nominating women to run for parliament or for municipal councils. However, it says it is ready to work with those who make it.

Bahrain’s lower chamber in 2002 was exclusively male and had only one woman in 2006, Latifa Al Gaood, who was assured last month of a new term in the absence of a challenger.

Eight women ran on Saturday, but only Muneera Fakhroo made it to the second round.

The upper chamber, made up of members appointed by the king, had 10 women in the 2006-2010 government. The second deputy chair is a Christian woman, Alice Samaan.

         

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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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