MANAMA (dpa) – Bahrainis will go again to the polls next week to decide on 34 seats of the 40-strong parliament after only six candidates won in the first round of the legislative elections, the official electoral commission said on Sunday.
The legislative polls, the Gulf country’s first since a failed 2011 uprising against the Sunni monarchy, were held on Saturday amid a boycott by the Shiite-led opposition.
The winners are five Sunnis, including an ex-lawmaker, and a Shiite contender.
One winner secured his seat after two rivals in his district quit the race before voting day, leaving him the sole candidate.
“Around 260 candidates will contest the remaining 34 seats on November 29,” Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa said. The candidates in the second round include six women, he added.
The electoral commission estimated that around 51.5 per cent of Bahrain’s eligible 350,000 voters cast their ballots on Saturday, a figure disputed by the opposition.
The Shiite opposition dismissed the elections as a farce, saying they lacked democratic guarantees.
Shiites, who are the majority in Bahrain, say they are discriminated against by the monarchy. They have demanded a more representative democracy.
Protests led by Shiites demanding reforms and political freedoms broke out in Bahrain in February 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring revolts.
Bahrain – home to about 1.3 million people, about half of whom are Bahraini citizens – is host to US Navy’s 5th Fleet and is considered a key regional ally of the West and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, another Sunni monarchy.