Bahrain opposition groups to boycott polls
Manama, May 28, 2014
Two opposition groups, including Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, will not contest the upcoming parliamentary and municipal elections.
A third society could also follow suit in a move described by Sunni groups as a "political mistake," said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Al Wefaq secretary general Shaikh Ali Salman made the official announcement on Twitter yesterday, claiming the country's slow political reform process was behind the groups boycotting the polls, which are expected to take place in September.
"This is the society's political decision," Al Wefaq senior member Abduljalil Al Khalil told the GDN.
"Al Wefaq will not be part of the elections unless our calls on political reforms are met.
"We have made our stance clear on our demands. Without the same being addressed, we do not believe in being part of the electoral process."
National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad) secretary general Radhi Al Mousawi said lack of political solutions have left them with no option but to boycott the elections.
"Wa'ad's political bureau opted not to contest as the political stalemate continues in the country," he said.
"The situation hasn't changed since February 2011 and we don't see any development in the political process."
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Tribune, which is part of the coalition of five opposition societies led by Al Wefaq, has still not finalised its stance on the elections.
"We link the elections to an all-inclusive political solution, without which we will not be able to achieve what we aim for," said secretary general Abdulnabi Salman.
"We look at the elections positively and believe that participation of all societies in the polls is good for the country.
"However, the bottom line is that political demands should be addressed."
However, National Unity Assembly (NUA) secretary-general Abdulla Al Huwaihi called the move a "political mistake".
"The decision is the society's prerogative, but I feel that all societies must be part of the election to achieve our common goal," he told the GDN.
"Whoever refrains from the election is a loser for the next four years.
"Al Wefaq is repeating their mistake of 2002, which they realised later.
"They should not be linking elections to their demands which should be addressed at the dialogue.
"A solution for the political crisis is vital, which can be achieved through talks, but the election is a national process, which must go on and as a responsible opposition society, Al Wefaq must rethink their decision."
He confirmed that the NUA has started preparations to contest the elections.
Al Fateh Youth Coalition spokesman Yacoub Al Slaise said the boycott could have an impact on the polls.
"With Al Wefaq backing out, their voters will abstain from participating in the process and this could reflect in the results," he said.
"They have the international society pressuring them to be a part of the elections, while the street is demanding solutions for the crisis.
"While the society is right in its few demands like fighting corruption and wider range of powers for parliament, their call to release political prisoners cannot be accepted as no one is above the law."
Shaikh Salman's announcement comes a day after reports stated that former Al Wefaq MP Matar Matar said opposition groups will be part of the 2014 parliamentary elections.
He reportedly discussed Al Wefaq's "flexibility" on its hard line position on the elections during a US Congress meeting.
However, Matar yesterday denied the reports as "baseless." - TradeArabia News Service