Bahrain sees 51.5% voter turnout in national elections

Bahrain held its parliamentary elections on Saturday, the first since a failed protest against the monarchy in 2011.

IANS| Last Updated: Nov 23, 2014, 05:12 AM IST

Manama: Bahrain registered 51.5 percent turnout in the parliamentary and municipal elections on Saturday, notwithstanding the opposition`s call to boycott the elections.

"The turnout today was 51.5 percent compared to the 67.7 per cent in the 2010 elections," said Bahrain`s Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, Xinhua reported.

The minister said after polling closed Saturday, that the calls for boycotting the polls did not affect the process and the boycott represented only 16 percent of the electorates. He praised the "high turnout" of voters.

Opposition groups, led by the Al Wefaq had claimed that the Shiite majority in Bahrain is discriminated by the Sunni monarchy and that the parliament is subject to the king`s wishes and lacks any real power.

Al Wefaq National Islamic Society claimed that the boycott affected the process and its secretary general, Shaikh Ali Salman, called for the United Nations (UN) to organise a fair and transparent poll.

"We are determined to continue this peaceful struggle until we achieve a democratic civil humanitarian state," Salman said.

There were minor clashes in some villages, but the security forces were able to control the situation.

Bahrain`s interior ministry said that there was a strong police presence in the country, throughout the day and police were on high alert for any possible trouble.

The ministry confirmed that it would continue to secure the election process and take appropriate steps against lawbreakers.

A total of 419 candidates, including 34 women, are running in these parliamentary and municipal elections.

As many as 53 polling stations across the country helped the voters cast their ballots smoothly.

349,713 people were eligible to vote in these elections to choose 39 MPs from 266 candidates and 29 municipal councillors from 153 candidates.

The elections were monitored by over 300 observers from eight local non-governmental organisations.

These are the first elections in Bahrain since a failed protest against the monarchy in 2011.