Battle for top parliament positions heats up in Bahrain

November 7, 2010

Al Dhahrani

The Independents, Bahrain’s second largest parliamentary party, has opted to pull out of the race for the second deputy speaker of the lower chamber and focus its efforts on chairing the powerful economic and financial committee.

The party, which has 12 members, said it would back Al Asala, a three-member party, in its bid to keep the position, with its chairman Ganem Al Buainian, leading the committee.

However, the decision will put the party on a clash course with Al Wefaq, the largest parliamentary party, whose leader Abdul Jalil Khalil wants to remain at the helm of the prestigious committee.

Al Wefaq has 18 members in the 40-seat lower chamber, but needs at least three more votes in order to have its way when faced with challenges.

The independent MPs have 17 seats, but will lose at least one member after Khalifa Al Dhahrani is elected as Speaker of the lower chamber.

The other seats, whose cooperation is needed by either of the leading parties, are held by three MPs representing Al Asala, the Salafi society, and two politicians from the Islamic Menbar.

Tension has been brewing amongst the three parties and the Independents for the top positions in the lower chamber, ahead of the legislative term inauguration which is expected in December.

But while there appears to be a concensus on keeping Al Dhahrani as speaker for a third term, and a quasi-agreement that Khalil Marzooq, from Al Wefaq, should be the first deputy speaker, there’s bitter disagreement over the name of the second deputy speaker and on who should head up the leading parliamentary committee.

Al Wefaq, as the largest party, says it has the right to chair two committees, while the Independents use the same argument to explain their attempts to head up the economic and financial committee.

However, both Al Asala and the Islamic Menbar do not want to slide further into oblivion, following their crushing defeats in the parliamentary elections on October 23 and 30.

In the 2006-2010 lower chamber, Al Asala and Al Menbar had eight and seven politicians respectively. But, they now have a combined total of five which has dramatically curbed their power.

Al Dhahrani on Thursday thanked all parties for publicly supporting him and pledged to work with all MPs regardless of their affiliations and ideologies.

His message of gratitude was announced a short time after Al Wefaq informed him that it wanted him to remain as the speaker for the next four years.



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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