Manama: The final official number of candidates running for Bahrain’s parliamentary and municipal elections this month is 419.

The final count was announced as the window for candidates to pull out of the race was closed Wednesday.

“The number of candidates seeking to become members of parliament stands at 266, while the number of postulants for a municipal council seat is 153,” Abdullah Hassan Al Buainain, executive director of the elections, said. “We had 11 candidates who opted to withdraw from the elections.”

Former MP Adel Al Mouawda who was elected to the lower house of the bicameral parliament in 2002, 2006 and 2010 was the most prominent figure to pull out.

The Salafist figure stunned his constituency when he made the sudden announcement without giving any reasons.

However, at a gathering hosted on Wednesday to thank his constituents for their support of 12 years, he said he would continue to serve the nation in another capacity.

“Whoever thinks I have left you is wrong,” he said. “I will not leave you and I will continue to serve you, but from a different location,” he said without elaborating.

With the decision of Al Mouawda to withdraw from the race, 11 of the 40 members of the outgoing parliament will not be seeking re-election, paving the way for a new look chamber.

Around 350,000 eligible Bahrainis will be casting ballots to choose their lawmakers and municipal councillors for the next four years on November 22.

The second round in constituencies where there is no winner with at least 51 per cent of the votes will be held on November 29.

Judge Khalid Ajjaji, a member of the high elections committee, said that 301 observers would be monitoring the polls.

He said eight civil societies have applied to have representatives to oversee the electoral process.

However, the judge said that 55 applicants had to be replaced after a study of their papers showed they were members of political societies, a violation of a decision announced last month by the committee to ensure neutrality.