Bahrain celebrates century of elections amid praise for deep-rooted democratic principles

By Noora Albinkhalil

 

Manama: Shura Council Chairman Ali Bin Saleh Al Saleh said that the support of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for democracy in Bahrain is a consolidation of the foundations to build and develop the state’s institutions to serve the aspirations of the people.

 

The progress in the application of democracy is supported by His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, and by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, he added.

 

Al Saleh was speaking at “The Centenary of Elections in Bahrain” online forum organized by the Historical Documentation Center at the Isa Cultural Center marking 100 years since the issuance of the first electoral system in Bahrain and the region.

 

The issuance of the “Manama Basic Law” constituted the historical nucleus of early and effective popular participation in managing community affairs and interests and that was based on respect for population, social and religious diversity, Al Saleh said.

 

The overall developments of the election process achieved a wide success for Bahrain in all democratic stages that culminated in HM the King’s comprehensive development plan, he added.

 

Isa Cultural Center Executive Director Dr. Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa read out “The Basic Law of Manama Municipality issued on July 20, 1920” and spoke about the establishment of the Manama municipality in 1919 and the issuance of the law in 1920.

 

The promulgation of the law inaugurated the modern stage in the state building that was based on institutional administrative organization, the rule of law and community involvement in the management of state interests. The law also led to the first electoral system in the region to choose the members of the municipal council that also included appointed members.

 

Shura Council Member Dr. Abdulaziz Abul said that Bahrain had consecrated the foundations of democracy and the principle of direct general election to the municipal and legislative institutions of the state.

 

Researcher at the Center for Historical Documentation Youssef Aqeel Ishaq highlighted the development stages of the electoral regimes and process.

 

Shura Council Second Deputy Chairman Jamila Ali Salman said Bahrain has been keen to support the factors for success in the electoral process since 2002.

 

Numerous constitutional, legal and procedural regulations have been placed in the electoral system to ensure the integrity of the process and the transparent exercise by citizens of their political rights, she said.

 

She pointed out that ensuring the continuity of the elections in the specified constitutional dates and the partnership with governmental, private and private institutions when assessing projects or proposals by laws or decrees by laws are elements that demonstrate the stability of the electoral system and the promotion of democracy in decision-making.

 

She also highlighted the role of Bahraini women in activating democratic principles during the reign of HM the King.

 

She referred to the participation of six women in the committee for drafting the National Action Charter in 2000, the participation of two women in the committee to activate the charter and the appointment of six women in the first Shura Council.

 

Women have also exercised their constitutional right to vote and run for parliament and municipal councils since 2002 and they have gradually increased their participation in the legislative and municipal councils until one woman, Fawzia Zainal, was elected Speaker of the Council of Representatives in 2018, she added.

 

Source: Bahrain News Agency

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