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Elections plan for 11 Bahrain constituencies

Manama, March 30, 2011

New elections will take place in constituencies no longer represented in parliament, after the resignations of 11 Bahrain MPs were accepted.

They must be held within two months of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Awqaf (Endowment) Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa officially announcing the vacancies.

Parliament yesterday accepted the resignations of 11 MPs belonging to opposition bloc Al Wefaq, but deferred a decision on seven others.

The bloc's 18 MPs submitted their resignations last month following the deaths of anti-government protesters.

Parliament suspended Al Wefaq's membership for two months on March 8, allowing the organisation - Bahrain's biggest opposition movement - an opportunity to reconsider its decision to pull out.

However, some MPs have been pushing to bring forward a vote on the resignations since last week.

MP Shaikh Jassim Al Saeedi, who is not affiliated with any political group, accused Al Wefaq's MPs of masquerading as ambassadors of peace, while at the same time aggravating the already volatile situation in Bahrain. 'Daily on satellite channels they encouraged people to go against the regime,' he said during yesterday's session.

The 11 MPs whose resignations were accepted include some of Al Wefaq's most senior political figures, including parliament first vice-chairman Khalil Al Marzooq; financial and economic affairs committee chairman and bloc president Abduljalil Khalil; parliament public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman and bloc first deputy president Jawad Fairooz; and parliament legislative and legal affairs committee vice-chairman Mohammed Al Mizal.

Others losing their seats are MPs Sayed Hadi Al Mousawi, Salman Salem, Abdulmajeed Al Sebea'a, Mattar Mattar, Ali Al Aswad, Dr Jassim Hussain and Hassan Sultan.

Seven MPs whose resignations were put on hold were parliament services committee chairman Dr Abdali Hassan; foreign affairs, defence and national security committee vice-chairman Abdulhussain Al Metgawie; Al Wefaq bloc second deputy president Sayed Jameel Kadhim; Sayed Abdulla Al A'ali; Shaikh Hassan Marzooq; Sayed Mohammed Sayed Majeed; and Ali Al Asheeri.

Their resignations have not been accepted so far because some MPs believe they were not involved in stoking tensions.

However, Shaikh Al Saeedi argued that all 18 should have lost their seats.

'We shouldn't differentiate or choose between those who have spoken out, because they all represent the same ideology of destruction,' he said.

Meanwhile, Al Asala MP Abdulhaleem Murad accused Al Wefaq of doing nothing while the country fell apart.

'They allowed outlaws to destroy the country without making any move,' he said.

Bahrain's only female MP, Independent bloc member Latefa Al Gaoud, argued Al Wefaq - as Bahrain's most prominent opposition movement - should have done more to help restore order during the height of unrest.

'Bahrain was stabbed by its own people while others who should have taken action left it unattended,' she said.

'All have to be punished for their crimes against our beloved country.'

Al Wefaq accounted for 18 of parliament's 40 seats before its MPs submitted their resignations.

The decision to accept the 11 resignations was passed unanimously by parliament's remaining 22 MPs yesterday.

Those 11 are no longer immune from prosecution, but parliament second vice-chairman Shaikh Adel Al Mawaada claimed some of those did not deserve to lose their seats.

'For example, the Southern Security Directorate director-general came on national television to praise Al Mizal for his efforts in calming tensions at Bahrain University,' he said.

MPs had called for a vote on the Al Wefaq resignations during parliament's regular meeting last week. However, they boycotted the session when parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani refused to include it on the agenda.

An extraordinary session scheduled last Thursday to vote on the resignations was also called off, after four MPs refused to show up - suggesting they hoped to keep Al Wefaq in parliament.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | government | Parliament | polls | unrest | elections | protests |

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