Bahrain to hold run-off poll after by-elections

Manama The contest for the only vacant seat in Bahrain’s lower chamber will be confined to two male candidates after the only woman hopeful lost in the first round of the by-elections.

With no clear winner emerging on Saturday, the top two of the four contestants in the Muharraq Eighth Constituency, Sameer Kadhem who received 1,324 votes (44 per cent) and Abdul Rahman Bu Ali who got 1,140 votes (38 per cent), will face each other in the run-off within one week, the justice minister said late on Saturday following the closure of the polling stations.

Under Bahrain’s election rules, a second round of voting is held if no candidate secures more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Two other candidates, Hind Bucheeri and Mubarak Mukhaima received 377 (13 per cent) and 136 (5 per cent) votes respectively on a quiet day that started off slowly, but picked up action just a few hours before the polling stations closed.

According to official results, 3,029 of the 8,128 registered voters cast their ballots, with some taking advantage of their presence at the City Centre to vote at the special polling stations set up there.

Dismal performance

The parliament seat was vacated by Al Asala Society head Ganem Al Buainian who was appointed state minister for foreign affairs.

The society that dominated the constituency since the first multi-party elections in 2002 has this time opted not to field candidates.

Al Asala had a dismal performance in the 2010 elections and lost its leadership in the 40-member lower chamber.

The Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim brotherhood, had a poor score as well, paving the way for a high number of independent candidates to win seats.

The Muharraq by-elections are the second to be held since the general elections were held in 2010.

The first by-elections in Bahrain’s modern history were held last year to replace the 18 MPs from Al Wefaq who resigned in February in protest against the way demonstrators were treated.

The former lawmakers were given several weeks to reconsider their position, but they insisted on their en-masse resignation.

Three women won in the by-elections, taking the number of women in the lower chamber to four.

In the upper chamber where the 40 members are appointed, the number of women is 11.

Bahrain has three women ministers.