Bahrain Shi'ite opposition bloc to boycott elections

August 12, 2011 20:15

DUBAI - Bahrain's largest Shi'ite opposition group said on Friday it would boycott parliamentary elections to fill seats vacated when its deputies resigned over the Sunni-led kingdom's crackdown on anti-government protests.

The move follows a "National Dialogue" that the monarchy -- which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet -- organized to defuse tension after the crackdown, in which thousands were detained and allegations of torture were rampant.

The opposition bloc, Wefaq, pulled out of the dialogue as well, which led to the king expanding the powers of the elected parliament last month while reserving the broader power of an upper chamber that his court selects.

"We decided to boycott because we are no longer convinced of the authority of this parliament," said Khalil al-Marzouq of Wefaq, whose 18 deputies resigned in February. "It no longer had any popular legitimacy."

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