Bahraini voters returned to the polls on Saturday for runoffs in a controversial election which is being boycotted by the Shia opposition.
The elections are the first since the 2011 uprising of the country’s Shia majority against their Sunni rulers. There have been anti-government protests and violence ever since.
Opposition Al-Wefaq is boycotting the vote. The group says government officials are unaccountable and unable to protect people’s rights. The group wants to see a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain, and the end of the absolute authority of the ruling family,
Protester Said Mehdi Ayat said: “of course, I am one of those who is boycotting the show-parliament that we have in the country because no qualified candidates are available. The people entering parliament are threatening and terrorising the people.”
Bahraini officials said more than half of those eligible had voted; the opposition put the figure closer to 30 percent.
Zahra Taher is head of a leading PR agency in Bahrain and is encouraging Bahrainis to vote.
“I am voting because the full democratic thing doesn’t happen in one day. Many countries it took them hundreds of years. So I have a responsibility to support the country, the people to go through this process. Of course it’s not always like the way we want it, but if we didn’t go through the process we will never reach to our ultimate goals,” Taher said.
The elections will decide the makeup of the 40 seat lower house of parliament. The 40 seats in the upper house are appointed by the king.
A first round vote saw only six candidates secure an outright majority to claim their seats.