Bahrain opposition challenges claims of Govt for election turnout
JNN 25 Sept 2011 Manama : The head of Bahrain’s main opposition party is challenging the official turnout figures for this weekend’s parliamentary elections, which were held under a boycott call by the opposition.
Al-Wefaq chief Sheik Ali Salman said about 17 percent of voters took part in Saturday’s elections. The government’s preliminary turnout figure was more than 51 percent, but it was unclear if the tally included counts from districts where candidates ran unopposed.
Al-Wefaq and other opposition blocs urged a boycott to protest crackdowns. He stated Sunday that the boycott was effective.
The election was called to fill 18 seats in the 40-member parliament after mass resignations by Shia lawmakers.
Opposition activists jailed
Also on Sunday, a Bahraini special court jailed the head of the teachers’ union for 10 years and his deputy for three, among other Shia Muslims over their alleged role in anti-regime protests, AFP quoted BNA state news agency as saying.
Mahdi Abu Deib and Jalila al-Salman were convicted by the court of national safety of “calling to forcefully overthrow the regime in union statements,” BNA said.
They were also accused of “promoting hatred to the regime and spreading false news,” it added.
BNA claimed that the pair used the union to “instigate acts that are considered criminal like calling for sit-ins by teachers, obstructing teaching, holding protests near schools… and calling upon parents not to send their children to school.”
The court was established after King Hamad declared a semi-emergency law in mid-March, a day before quashing a month-long pro-democracy protest, also sentenced other Shias to prison.
Bahrain king to travel to Saudi
In another developments, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is to travel to Riyadh and meet with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
King Hamad will leave Manama on September 26 and is scheduled to hold talks with his Saudi counterpart regarding relations between the two kingdoms, Press TV reported.
In mid-March, Saudi Arabia deployed troops in Bahrain to help the Manama regime crack down on peaceful anti-government demonstrations across the country.
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 more arrested in a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain, home to a huge American military installation for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf.