Bahrain's Shiite-led opposition lost a historic bid early Sunday to gain control of the island kingdom's parliament after failing to win enough seats in a runoff election.
The opposition, led by the country's downtrodden majority Shiites, gained two seats during Saturday's runoff, for a total of 18 of the 40 seats in the parliament's elected lower house, Bahrain state-run television reported, citing official election results.
Pro-government Sunnis took nine seats during the runoff, for a total of 22 parliament seats.
Despite failing to win a majority, the election was being hailed as a major step forward for Bahrain's Shiites and democracy. The election was the first in which the Shiite-led opposition made a strong run in parliament, after boycotting the elections in 2002 _ the country's first after 26 years of direct rule by the al-Khalifa royal family.
Shiites have long complained they are squeezed out of power by the Sunni monarchy.