Manama: Al Wefaq, Bahrain's largest political society and parliamentary bloc in the 2006-2010 Parliament, on Saturday announced the names of its 17 candidates for the October parliamentary elections.
The society also gave the names of its 17 candidates for the municipal elections to be held on the same day, October 23.
Despite repeated calls from activists to include at least one woman candidate, no woman was named on either list, a blow to the chances of women in the third elections to be held since 2002 following a three-decade constitutional hiatus.
The lower chamber has only one woman, Lateefa Al Gaood, who made history in 2006 by becoming the first Gulf woman to win a seat. She carried the seat after her only opponent withdrew from the race.
According to Al Wefaq's list where only two candidates hail from the religious institution, Ali Salman, the society's leader, will not be running in the election. He had repeatedly said that he preferred to assume a role outside the parliament and that he would not run. Matar Ebrahim Matar will replace him as the candidate in the first constituency of the Northern Governorate.
Under the elections logo "We protect our Country", Al Wefaq will field six candidates in the Capital Governorate, one in Muharraq where Sunni Islamists dominated in the first two elections, three in the Central Governorate and eight in the Northern Governorate, the society's traditional fief although several independents have claimed that they had tangible chances to win seats in the area. Al Wefaq will not, once more, field candidates in the Southern Governorate where its chances to win are slim.
Outgoing MPs Khalil Marzooq, Jasem Hussain and Mohammad Al Mezal were among selected by Al Wefaq through a multi-layer process to run again for a second term. However, Jalal Fairooz and Hamza Al Dairi would not be running.
Al Wefaq's attempt to strike a selection deal that would be satisfactory to most supporters had run into controversy after several villages, the backbone of the society's voters but where geography is more significant than competence, have expressed dismay over the non selection of their favourite candidates.
Some of the people initially named by Al Wefaq were rejected in marathon sessions by the society's consultative body.
Al Wefaq has refused to give up any of its "secure" constituencies to its partner political formations, repeating a position it took in 2006 that resulted in the society being the only opposition group in the lower chamber and in angry comments and sharp criticism from its partners.
The other two political societies represented in the lower chamber, Al Asala, the flagship of Salafis, and the Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that they would announce their final lists soon.
Waad, Bahrain's largest liberal society, has denied rumours that it would add two more names to the three it had announced.
The society said that it prefers to devote its time, energy and funds to the three candidates to maximize their chances for a historic win.,
Waad is the only society to have named a woman candidate, Muneera Fakhro, who narrowly lost in the second round in 2006
Bahrainis will on October 23 elect 40 lawmakers and 40 municipal councilors for a four-year term. In constituencies where there is no clear winner, voters will have to choose between the top two on October 30.
Al Wefaq's candidates:
Capital Govenorate: Khalil Marzooq, Hadi Al Mousawi, Abdul Jalil Khalil, Mohammad Al Mezal, Majeed Al Sebaa, Jameel Kadhem.
Central Governorate: Abdullah Al A'ali, Abd Ali Mohammad Hassan, Hassan Marzooq
Northern Governorate: Matar Ebrahim Matar, Ali Mahdi Al Aswad, Abdul Hussain Al Mutghawi, Mohammad Majeed, Jassem Husain, Jawad Fairooz, Hassan Sultan
Muharraq: Ali Al Asheeri