Manama: Bahrain’s opposition parties have said they will boycott parliamentary elections due to take place this year unless the government guarantees the vote will reflect “the will of the people”, a statement from the opposition said on Saturday.
Bahrain has witnessed sporadic protests since 2011 when uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia touched off a wave of unrest in the country.
Talks between the government and opposition have failed to end the political standoff. Opposition activists complain of political and economic discrimination in the kingdom, a charge the authorities deny.
“The National Democratic Opposition Parties in Bahrain announced they are to boycott the coming parliamentary elections unless a clear political agreement is reached,” said the statement issued after a meeting at the headquarters of Al Wefaq, the main Shiite Islamist opposition movement.
Al Wifaq withdrew its 18 members from parliament in 2011 in the wake of the unrest. The government held elections that year to replace the opposition lawmakers who withdrew. Parliamentary and municipal elections are slated for October.
“These elections must produce an elected government reflecting the will of the people, an independent judiciary and a security services that reflect Bahrain’s diversity,” the statement said.
The opposition groups urged the international community to help them pursue a peaceful democratic transition.
“The opposition will work on developing the peaceful popular struggle for democracy,” the statement said.
“We will stick to political activism that is based only on peaceful principles and continue to reject all and any violence.”
Bahrain has banned unlicensed protests and gatherings. Authorities quelled the disturbances in 2011 with help from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, but protests and small-scale clashes persist and bomb attacks have increased since mid-2012.