Manama: As election day is inexorably nearing, Bahraini officials have given strong assurances the process on November 22 would be smooth and incident-free and would receive wide local and international coverage.
Opening the dedicated media centre in Manama, Sameera Bin Rajab, the information minister, said that by holding national elections for the fourth consecutive time without interruption, Bahrainis were “clearly demonstrating they were supporting democracy, reinforcing political pluralism and consolidating active involvement in public life.”
“It is highly significant that the parliamentary and municipal elections are being held as scheduled, in a clear indication that the reforms are moving forward and that Bahrainis are keen on advancing their democratic experience,” she said. “The exercise of democracy is an accumulation of the people’s experiences and these vary from country to country, from culture to culture. Our role today is to reinforce it and ensure its success. Bahraini citizens should assume their role and exercise their constitutional rights by voting and choosing their lawmakers,” she said.
Media should be positive in their coverage and help raise awareness among people in order to consolidate the principles of democracy that include elections, she added.
According to the minister, 300 local journalists and photographers and 100 foreign reporters and photographers would be covering the elections.
“We also have 20 satellite channels, 30 Arab and international dailies and 10 news agencies to report on the event,” she said.
Abdullah Al Buainain, the executive director of the elections, said that all the details have been worked out in anticipation of the polls.
“We are fully ready for the elections on November 22,” he said. “Preparations started four months ago and included all the necessary logistics and require facilities. We are confident that Election Day would an easy, smooth and memorable day for all voters,” he said.
Public Security Chief Major-General Tariq Al Hassan said that security perpetrations for the parliamentary and municipal elections were complete.
“Our emergency and alternative plans are ready and our personnel who have been trained on different security scenarios will monitor groups or individuals who may try to hinder the election or to affect the security and safety of citizens,” he said in a statement.
“The security situation is now much better in Bahrain. In all cases, tThere will be firmness within the law. We are now more experienced thanks to the experience we have accumulated over the years since we are now about to have our fourth legislative term,” he told Bahrain Television.
Al Hassan advised people not to heed rumours and allegations and urged them to take information from official sources, including the Police Media Centre website or twitter account.
Official figures indicate that 349,713 Bahrainis, including 175,998 men and 173,175 women, are listed to cast their ballots and elect 40 lawmakers for the 2014-2018 term.
The quadrennial elections would be the fourth to be held since 2002 when a new constitution ended a constitutional hiatus that lasted almost three decades. The elections were held also in 2006 and 2010.
Bahrainis outside the kingdom cast their ballots on Tuesday, four days ahead of the polls in Bahrain.
Officials said that 1,667 Bahrainis were registered to vote, with the Bahrain embassy in Japan the first to welcome overseas voters and the embassy in the US sealing the last box.
Officials from the 29 Bahraini diplomatic missions abroad said that the election process was smooth and that some of the voters braved the elements and the distance to be able to cast their ballots.
The results will be announced concurrently with those of the polls in Bahrain late on Saturday or early on Sunday.
However, in case there is no clear winner in any constituency, the second round between the top two contenders will be held on November 25 for voters abroad and on November 29 for voters in Bahrain.
Bahrainis casting their ballots in Bahrain will have, in addition to their designated district centres, the choice from 13 general polling stations located throughout the kingdom. They include the airport and the King Fahad Causeway, the 25-kilometre long terrestrial link with Saudi Arabia.