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Bahrain Shiite opposition to boycott elections

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: October 12, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain's main opposition Shiite group formally announced Saturday it will boycott the country's upcoming November parliamentary elections.

In a news conference, Al-Wefaq and three other groups in the National Democratic Opposition Parties said they will boycott elections because they say the government has not engaged in genuine reconciliation efforts. Al-Wefaq leaders previously warned on numerous occasions they would boycott.

"This election is a government election," the head of Al-Wefaq, Ali Salman, said. "We are boycotting because we want our legislative rights that still do not exist."

Al-Wefaq withdrew its 18 lawmakers from the 40-seat lower house during the height of the unrest in 2011. The Nov. 22 elections are the first since protests erupted.

Bahrain has faced more than three years of unrest after a Shiite-dominated opposition movement inspired by Arab Spring protests took to the streets to demand greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy. Bahrain moved to crush the uprising with the help of security forces from Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Gulf Arab states.

Repeated rounds of talks between the government and members of the opposition have failed to significantly defuse the tensions, and activists frequently clash with security forces.

Bahrain also hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Sheik Ali Salman, leader of the main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq, explains why his and other opposition groups are refusing to participate in upcoming elections at a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Opposition leaders announced Saturday that the Al-Wefaq society and four smaller groups will boycott the Nov. 22 parliamentary and municipal elections in the Gulf island kingdom. A Bahraini flag is seen at left.
AP

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