MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s top Shiite opposition parties said Saturday that they will boycott parliamentary and municipal elections slated for October.
The group of four, known as The National Democratic Opposition Parties in Bahrain, told a news conference that they are not taking part in elections until a political agreement that reflects the will of the people is reached. They said the agreement must “realize the principles of a democratic system of governance, where the people are the source of all authorities.”
The largest opposition party, Al Wifaq, withdrew its 18 members from parliament in 2011 after the Sunni monarchy moved to crush protests by the Gulf Arab country’s Shiite majority. The government held elections that year to replace the opposition lawmakers who withdrew.
Daily protests since have roiled the tiny island-nation. Protesters are demanding a greater political voice and equal rights.
The opposition said that the “continuous refusal to engage in genuine negotiations and reach an agreeable resolution for the crisis … leaves no option for the opposition but to continue with the peaceful popular struggle that erupted in February 2011.”
Since the uprising began, dozens of Shiite opposition protesters have been killed or jailed. More radical factions have increasingly targeted government forces with crude, homemade bombs.
There are a total of 80 seats in Bahrain’s parliament, divided equally between the upper and lower chambers. Elections are held every four years. The last time the opposition boycotted was in 2002.
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