MANAMA, Bahrain, Nov. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A total of 419 candidates have registered to run in the upcoming elections scheduled on November 22. Several political societies have fielded candidates and called for wide participation at the polls. However, Al-Wefaq Islamic Society and three other groups announced their decision to boycott despite the urging of the international community. Several prominent clerics including Ayatollah Isa Qassim (Al-Wefaq's spiritual leader) issued an edict urging followers to boycott. Subsequently, a violent intimidation campaign against election candidates ensued forcing some to withdraw.
HRH CP DELIVERS DIALOGUE FRAMEWORK DOCUMENT; 419 ELECTION CANDIDATES REGISTER
- Following eight months of bilateral talks with the political societies, in September 2014, HRH the Crown Prince delivered a Dialogue Framework document to HM the King and to community leaders.
- The Dialogue Framework document contains five points that include a redrawing of electoral districts and expanded rights of approval for Parliament on the appointment of Cabinet. The incoming Parliament will play a key role in enacting the Dialogue Framework document into legislation.
- Electoral districts were redrawn to better reflect demographic changes and ensure fairer representation. For instance, opposition-leaning Al-Wasat Newspaper claims that due to the redistricting, Al-Wefaq enjoys better chances of winning in one if not two more districts compared to the previous election, bringing their total potential share to 19 or 20 seats out of 40.
- A total of 419 candidates have applied to run for elections. Several political societies have also fielded candidates.
ALWEFAQ & AYATOLLAH ISA QASSIM URGE FOLLOWERS TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS
- On October 3, Ayatollah Isa Qassim delivered a sermon viewed as not shutting the door on participation.
- Nevertheless, on October 11 Al-Wefaq and three other groups officially announced a boycott of elections.
- On October 16, the EU States' Ambassadors of Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom expressed their "deep disappointment" in the opposition's decision, urging it to reconsider. Al-Wefaq rejected the statement.
- On October 18, some members affiliated with Al-Wefaq nonetheless put forward their candidacy for the elections. These include former MP Jassim Al-Muwali, Fadel Al-Haraz and Mirza 'Abu Nabil' Al-Muhari.
- On the same day, Al-Wefaq's Secretary General Shaikh Ali Salman and his deputy responded by declaring participation in the elections as grounds for immediate dismissal from the society.
- A few hours later, the spiritual leader of Al-Wefaq Ayatollah Isa Qassim and Shaikh Abdullah Al-Ghuraifi issued a religious edict urging followers to boycott. The statement represented a shift in their original position.
INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST ELECTION CANDIDATES ENSUES
- Abu Nabil demonized on social media, withdraws citing concerns for family's wellbeing (October 19)
- Majid Al-Usfoor's vehicle torched outside of his house (October 19)
- Ali Al-Derazi's house and vehicles torched at night (October 23)
- Mohamed Al-Ekri's car polishing business 'Classico' torched (October 23)
- Hussain Al-Hamar's vehicle torched outside of his house (October 24)
- Ja'afar Al-Asfoor's vehicles torched outside of his house (October 24)
- Abdulla Tarar's campaign tent set on fire in the Northern Governorate area (October 26)
- Dr. Isa Turki's campaign headquarters set on fire in Hamad Town (November 5)
- Abdulqader Al-Sayed's campaign headquarters set on fire in the Northern Governorate area (November 5)
- Jihan Mohamed's campaign tent set on fire and campaign posters vandalized (November 8)
- Ali Al-Derazi's campaign posters vandalized in the Northern Governorate area (November 9)
- Election billboard torched belonging to an election candidate in Dar Kulaib village (November 9)
- Huda Radhi's campaign tent set on fire in Buquwa village, security guard assaulted (November 17)
- Ammar Al-Mehari's vehicle torched in Sanabis village (November 17)
SOURCE Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain