MANAMA – Bahrain went to the polls Saturday for its first legislative elections since a failed uprising in 2011, with the opposition boycotting the vote.
Bahrain’s electorate of almost 350,000 is being called to choose 40 deputies. Most of the 266 candidates are Sunnis.
Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) and are due to close at 8:00 pm. Municipal elections are being held at the same time.
In Rifaa, a Sunni-dominated district south of Manama, dozens of people, mostly men dressed in traditional long white robes, lined up ahead of the start of voting.
“This election will help the development of the country under the leadership of the king,” said Naima El-Heddi, a civil servant in her 30s.
Voters were scarcer further north in the Shiite village of Jidhafs, where a witness reported seeing just 100 people casting ballots in the first two hours.
The boycott means turnout will be a key marker of the validity of the vote.
Information Minister Samira Rajab stressed ahead of the polls that the government would not tolerate “chaos, unrest and foreign meddling” — a reference to Shiite Iran.
Attacks that cause death or injuries can now be met with capital punishment or life imprisonment.
Source: Middle East Online.