Bahrainis abroad cast their votes
Manama, September 21, 2011
Hundreds of Bahrainis living overseas yesterday (September 20) voted for candidates standing in the parliament by-election.
Embassies and consulates worldwide opened their doors for people to cast their ballots with 14 seats still up for grabs.
The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS), which is monitoring the voting process, said the process had appeared fair and transparent.
"Everything went smoothly with few voters turning up to cast their ballots," said secretary-general Faisal Fulad, who is in London as a monitor.
However, he revealed some voters had been forced to brave intimidation as opposition groups and their supporters protested outside the Bahrain Embassy in London.
"Some voters were scared to vote after these protest calls. The UK police made necessary arrangements for safety for all individuals," said Fulad.
He said the voting rights of citizens should not be compromised by threats from disruptive elements.
"If the government is really serious about democratic progress for Bahrain such threats should not be tolerated and immediate steps must be taken to uphold the voting rights of citizens," added Fulad.
Bahraini Suhaila Rajab travelled two hours from Norwich to cast her vote in London.
"Every true Bahraini should go out and vote," she said. "This is the time the country needs its people to stand up and elect the right person. I left my family back home and spent two hours travelling to vote at our embassy in London.
"There are some groups who are doing these rubbish things to tarnish the country's image. I am happy that I exercised my right to vote and urge other citizens to do so."
A ballot box has also been set up at the Bahrain Embassy in Bangkok, although only handful of people registered to vote.
"Most of the voters registered are from constituencies where winners were declared. There were few voters who showed up to vote," said Bahrain Ambassador to Thailand Adel Yousif Sater.
Those who voted had their passports stamped with the official 2011 by-election logo. Voters were also active at the Bahrain Consulate in Mumbai.
"We had few Bahraini students who voted for candidates contesting in their respective constituency," said Consul General Mohammed Abdulaziz Al Khaja.
"The Foreign Affairs Ministry in Bahrain was in touch with us and we supplied them relevant information."
Election officials in Bahrain were kept fully up to date.
"The election team constantly communicated with embassy staff and were briefed on latest developments," said a spokesman. "There was no complaint registered from any Bahraini embassy and diplomatic mission."
Overseas voting is being done in advance of Saturday's by-election so the results can be collected and added to those cast in Bahrain.
A second round of voting will be required if no candidate polls more than 50 per cent votes.
The two highest scoring candidates would then go head to head in a second round that will be held on September 27. Four candidates have already been elected after their rivals pulled out of the race.
The by-election is taking place following the resignation of 18 Al Wefaq MPs. – TradeArabia News Service