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Bahrain to hold parliament vote in November

By AFP - Sep 10,2018 - Last updated at Sep 10,2018

DUBAI — King Hamad has set a November 24 date for Bahrain’s parliamentary elections after banning members of dissolved opposition parties from running.

The Sunni-ruled Gulf state has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned — with many stripped of their nationality.

The amended law on “The Exercise of Political Rights” announced in June prohibits “leaders and members of political associations dissolved for violating the kingdom’s constitution or its laws” from standing in parliamentary elections.

In a copy of the royal decree published on the official BNA news agency on Monday, King Hamad urged eligible voters to elect members of the 40-seat lower house of parliament.

The lower house has the authority to examine and pass legislation proposed by the king or Cabinet and also has monitoring powers.

However, the upper chamber, or consultative council, appointed by the king and which has the same number of members, has the power to block legislation by the lower house.

Opposition parties boycotted the last elections in 2014 — the first after the crackdown on protesters in 2011 — and denounced the vote as a “farce”.

Since then, authorities have outlawed the main Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, and the main secular opposition group, the National Democratic Action Society or Waad.

Bahrain, a key ally of the United States and home to the US Fifth Fleet, accuses Shiite Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom.

Iran denies the allegations.

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