MANAMA (dpa) – Pro-government candidates won Bahrain’s parliamentary elections, according to results released Sunday, but independent Shiite candidates managed to take 13 seats in the 40-member National Assembly despite a boycott by the Shiite-led opposition.
The November 22 polls, the Gulf country’s first since a failed 2011 uprising against the Sunni monarchy, also saw the election of three women, all Shiites. The results were released after run-offs were held Saturday.
The elections brought 30 new members into the lower house, most of whom have not been politically active in the past.
Only 10 representatives managed to win re-election.
The new assembly will also see a decline in the number of Sunni Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Shiite opposition dismissed the elections as a farce, saying they lacked democratic guarantees. Shiites, who are the majority in Bahrain, said 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. They were eventually crushed.
Bahrain – home to about 1.3 million people, about half of whom are Bahraini citizens – is host to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and is considered a key regional ally of the West and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, another Sunni monarchy.
The US congratulated Bahrain on the successful vote, but called on the government to focus on national reconciliation, through real political dialogue and respect for universal human rights, including the rights of peaceful assembly, debate and dissent.
“We continue to believe that Bahrain’s long-term security and prosperity is best achieved through an inclusive and pluralistic political process that enfranchises all of the citizens of this richly diverse nation,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.