Religious societies likely to reverse elections decision

August 16, 2011

Bahrain’s two leading Sunni societies might reverse an earlier decision not to take part in next month’s parliamentary by-elections and work on a partnership to boost their success rates.

More than 111,000 are scheduled to cast their ballots on September 24 to elect 18 new lawmakers to replace the former MPs who represented Al Wefaq Islamic Society after they resigned in late February to protest against the way the authorities tackled demonstrations.

Both Al Menbar, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Asala, the exclusive expression of Salafism, earlier this month said that they were not ready to take part in the forthcoming polls, explaining that they needed time to regroup their forces and evaluate their particularly disappointing campaign in the quadrennial elections in October when they lost their edge in the lower chamber. In the 2006 elections, their partnership allowed them to cruise impressively into the 40-member elected chamber of the bicameral parliament. However, in 2010, their partnership collapsed and their candidates were punished by an unimpressed electorate.

“Senior leaders from both societies have been meeting to forge a new partnership and overcome the challenges of the 2010 elections,” sources told Bahraini daily Al Bilad. “The efforts aim to secure a common front following the events that shook the political street in Bahrain,” the unidentified sources said.

Al Asala and the Islamic Menbar will hold several common activities to bridge the gap and fix the fractures in their relations caused by their deep divergences before and during the elections, according to the sources.
On Friday, Al Wefaq said that it would boycott the by-elections, claiming that the country needed to re-draw the electoral constituencies and to reinforce the power of the lower chamber.

In 2002, Al Wefaq boycotted the first parliamentary elections to be held in Bahrain following a three-decade constitutional hiatus.

The society said then it wanted greater constitutional reforms. However, it reversed its stance in 2006 and carried 17 seats in the elections even though its leaders told reporters that they had anticipated to win in 13 or 14 constituencies.

In 2010, Al Wefaq fielded 18 candidates, all men, who won their way into the lower chamber to form the largest bloc, but left it in February following an internal vote.



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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