Society to monitor Bahrain’s poll stations
Manama, September 12, 2011
Volunteers from a Bahrain youth society will help monitor polling stations for violations during this month's by-election, said a top official.
"We are the only youth group that will monitor the by-election," said Rashid Al Ghayeb, deputy secretary-general, Bahrain Dialogue Society (BDS).
“We will have about 25 trained volunteers positioned in polling centres including the centres outside the constituency."
BDS will work closely with Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) to keep a look out for any dirty tricks used by or against candidates.
It has already started training volunteers for the role, ahead of the by-election on September 24.
The society's Bahraini volunteers will be provided with Internet access and a detailed plan highlighting their role.
Al Ghayeb said workshops were now being conducted to train its team of volunteers. He said it was important for the youth to know about the democratic practices that had evolved over the years in Bahrain.
"Youth are the future of any country and they should be aware of society and governance," said Al Ghayeb.
"This election is a chance for them to know about the country and contribute to monitoring the electoral process."
Al Ghayeb said monitoring an election was an expensive exercise with limited funding from government.
He revealed the society spent more than BD3,000 ($7,956) training volunteers to oversee last year's parliament and municipal council elections.
"We have to conduct workshops, meetings and other logistic procedures to train youth for volunteering," said Al Ghayeb. "This time we are monitoring despite boycott calls from some groups."
Our sister newspaper the Gulf Daily News reported earlier this month that 10 candidates had allegedly been threatened by text messages, letters and phone calls for taking part in the by-election.
BHRWS has registered a complaint with the Elections Supreme Committee calling for an investigation, while election officials have urged any candidates and voters affected to contact their nearest police station.
A total of 187,080 voters are eligible to cast their votes to decide the fate of 74 candidates in the race for the remaining 17 seats.
Ali Ahmed Ali Ahmed Al Dirazi has already been elected unopposed in the Northern Governorate Constituency three, which covers Bani Jamra, Duraz, Barbar and Jasra after his rivals pulled out.
The 18 parliament seats up for grabs were vacated by Al Wefaq members.
Resignations of 11 MPs were accepted in March and the remaining seven in May.
They were accused of stoking tension during the anti-government protests and last month announced the bloc would boycott the by-election.
A second round of voting will be held on October 1 for any constituency with no clear winner. Voting will also be held at Bahraini embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions abroad on September 20 and in case of a re-vote on September 27. – TradeArabia News Service
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