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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Bahrain holds parliament polls

A Bahraini woman casts her ballot at a polling station in the city of Jidhafs, about 3km west of the capital Manama, during parliamentary elections, on Saturday. — AFP
A Bahraini woman casts her ballot at a polling station in the city of Jidhafs, about 3km west of the capital Manama, during parliamentary elections, on Saturday. — AFP

MANAMA: Bahrainis on Saturday voted in parliamentary elections.


The government said 344,713 voters were eligible to vote, down from 365,467 in the last polls in 2018.


Justice Minister Nawaf Al Ma'awda, when asked, told reporters at a polling station that the voter list did not include individuals who did not previously vote but that they "were given the chance to then register".


A government spokesperson later said in a statement that "no one is penalised for choosing not to vote" and that the elections had seen "more candidates than ever before".


Just over 500 candidates are running for 40 parliamentary and 30 municipal seats, including 94 women, more than double the 2018 figure, authorities say.


Parliament consists of the elected Council of Representatives and the 40-member Shura Council, appointed by the king. The Interior Ministry late on Friday announced hacking attempts on websites "to hinder the elections".


Higher oil prices have improved the fiscal outlook for Bahrain, which says it is pushing ahead with an economic recovery plan to grow non-oil GDP by 5 per cent this year and create 20,000 jobs for Bahrainis each year for the next two years.


At a polling centre set up in Bahrain International Circuit, where Formula 1 races are held, several voters said job creation and wages were their main concerns at a time of rising prices.


"They need to reassure new graduates that there will be jobs for them...and take care of pensioners," Ali Jassem Ibrahim, a 54-year-old defence ministry employee, told Reuters. "Focus on citizens' standards of living."


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