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Religious body floats demands for elections

The Islamic Action Society, one of the main opposition religious political formations in Bahrain, will not take part in the parliamentary elections unless four of its seven candidates are supported by its main ally.

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 00:00 March 8, 2006
  • Gulf News

Manama: The Islamic Action Society, one of the main opposition religious political formations in Bahrain, will not take part in the parliamentary elections unless four of its seven candidates are supported by its main ally, Al Wefaq National Society, sources yesterday told Gulf News.

"The society is keen to be part of the elections and wants to field seven candidates. However, it will announce its participation only if it feels that its contenders have good chances of winning," the sources said.

"The society believes that with enough support it can secure the seven seats that will be added to Al Wefaq's expected 14 seats, giving both societies the majority in the 40-member Council of Representatives."

But society spokesman Jawad Abdul Wahab refused to comment on the issue, telling Gulf News that the formation, which appeals mainly to followers of Najaf-based Ayatollah Hadi Al Modarresi and known as the Shirazi faction, might not participate in the elections because most of its supporters still demand further constitutional reforms.

A political analyst said the society's stance was "based on self-serving interests but under glossy principles to boost its prestige".

In 2002, the society boycotted the first legislative polls in three decades to protest against granting the Upper House of the bi-cameral parliament greater powers.

Its attempts to attract more supporters in the last four years have often failed because of its uncompromising line and the society has hardly any presence within the trade unions, a traditional avenue for activists. Its board has invariably refused to divulge the number of its followers.

The Islamic Action Society is the direct descendent of the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain whose members were involved in a failed coup d'etat in 1981 to set up a theocratic government.

Its members were pardoned after wide ranging political reforms encouraged by His Majesty King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in 2001. With the reforms they returned from exile or were released from prison and formed the Islamic Action Society.

"Today we are established as a political society in accordance with the laws. We obviously do not seek to overthrow the regime, but we do call for further political reforms," the society president, Shaikh Mohammad Ali Mahfoodh, had told the press last year.

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