14 By-elections today
Elections will take place today to complete the filling of 18 seats in the Council of Representatives (the lower house) left vacant since February after the resignation of Al Wefaq MPs in protest at the use of violence against civilian protesters.
Of the 18 seats four have already been filled by candidates who were uncontested.
Of the remaining 14 seats, there are 55 candidates standing, most of whom are independents, with an electorate of 187,080 voters.
Opposition groups have called upon protesters to carry out a day of civil disobedience, with car drivers driving slowly to block up traffic and demonstrations breaking out in areas around the capital Manama.
Al Wefaq have described today a ‘day to mourn democracy’ and have asked people to boycott the elections. According to one news agency the government has threatened that anyone who does not vote will be excluded from government jobs and will be denied public services.
There is very heavy security for the elections with a number of protests breaking out last night and being put down by police and blockades being put up overnight.
The government has struggled to maintain control ever since they violently cracked down on protesters and a low grade series of civil disobedience events have been held, including rejection of National Dialogue talks.