Thursday Mar 15, 201203:25 PM GMT
Al-Wefaq boycotts Bahrain elections
Bahraini Parliament
Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:5PM
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Bahrain's main opposition bloc says it will not participate in the parliamentary elections to replace the opposition lawmakers who resigned in protest to Manama's crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Eighteen Bahraini lawmakers from the main Shia opposition party, al-Wefaq, walked out of the parliament in February after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters, killing and wounding scores of them.

"The core issue is that the legislative authority does not exist anymore," Khalil al-Marzouq, a former al-Wefaq lawmaker, said on Wednesday.

The Bahraini government has barred the lawmakers who resigned, from participating in the by-elections but said al-Wefaq could nominate new candidates.

Al-Wefaq, however, has refused to register, saying that the 40-member parliament has lost its legitimacy and that it does not represent the will of the Bahraini people.

The opposition bloc has also disputed the legitimacy of the upper house of parliament, whose members are appointed rather than elected, and can block the initiatives of the lower house.

According to Bahrain's Justice Minister Khaled Bin Ali Al Khalifa, the first round of vote to fill the 18 vacant seats in the lower house of parliament (Council of Representatives) will be held on September 24 and the second round on October 1, 2011.

Bahrainis have been holding anti-government rallies since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled the country for over 40 years.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others have been arrested in a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain, home to a huge American military installation for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf.

In March, a number of Persian Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, deployed military forces to Bahrain in an attempt to assist the Manama regime's crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Recently released former opposition lawmakers Jawad Fairooz and Matar Matar, who were detained in May, said they had been tortured in prison soon after losing their parliamentary immunity.

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