The main Shiite opposition group made a slender gain in Bahrain’s parliamentary poll, results showed yesterday, with their majority community demanding a greater say in the Sunni-run Gulf monarchy.
The Islamic National Accord Association (INAA) won 18 seats in the 40-member Council of Representatives of Bahrain in Saturday’s poll, the electoral commission announced.
The 18 candidates of INAA, which clinched 17 seats at the last poll in 2006, were all elected from a first round, with more than the required 50 percent of votes, commission chairman Abdullah al-Buainain told reporters.
Top Shiite cleric and lawmaker Sheikh Ali Salman hailed the results and called for a “more positive” stance from the government.
“The most important message for the government is that al-Wefaq [INAA] is the largest political association in Bahrain,” said Salman, who is also the head of INAA. “The people’s will must be respected and dealt with positively.”
Before the close of campaigning, Salman openly challenged the pro-Western al-Khalifa family, the dynasty that has ruled Bahrain since 1783, saying that authority should be shared. Bahrain’s current government has several Shiite ministers, but none of them are INAA members.
Reforms passed in a 2001 -referendum restored a parliament dissolved in 1975 and turned the emirate into a constitutional monarchy, but Bahraini King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifa’s uncle, Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, has served as prime minister ever since independence from Britain in 1971.
On Saturday, Prince Khalifa pledged to cooperate with the legislative authority, but at the same time dismissed the presence of an opposition political party in the country.
Nine seats remain up for grabs in a second round of voting on Saturday.
Two candidates from the National Democratic Action Association, an alliance of pan-Arab nationalists and leftists that failed to win seats in 2006, including a woman, Munira Fakhru, are to run in the second round.
Candidates of two Sunni Islamist groups, the National Islamic Forum and al-Assalah, will also contest next Saturday’s vote.
Sunni Islamist groups held 12 seats in the outgoing parliament, while women candidates failed to make an impression, winning only one seat, which was unopposed.
Some people complained that their names had been missing from voters’ lists, but senior officials dismissed the protest.
Bahraini Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Sheikh Khaled bin Ali al-Khalifa, head of the electoral commission, estimated turnout of “at least 67 percent,” compared with 72 percent in 2006 and 53.4 percent in 2002.
With yesterday’s results, INAA strengthens its presence in the lower house of parliament, which has the authority to examine and pass legislation proposed by the king or Cabinet and also has monitoring powers.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday