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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 18:38 GMT
Bahrain votes on new parliament
Bahraini man walks past election posters
Opposition groups have taken part in an impassioned campaign
Voters in the Gulf state of Bahrain have taken part in elections for a new parliament and local councils.

It is the second time people have been able to vote for representatives at a national level under a new system introduced by the King of Bahrain.

On Friday, about 2,000 people protested in the capital Manama demanding the resignation of the prime minister over alleged electoral fraud.

The former government adviser who made the allegations has been deported.

Salah al-Bandar had accused the government of plotting to ensure Sunni Muslim dominance in the elections.

Protesters also accused Prime Minister Khalifah bin Salman al-Khalifah of granting citizenship to foreign workers in order to increase the proportion of non-Shia voters.

Foreign workers, many of them Asian, make up approximately one-third of Bahrain's 700,000 people.

Voter turnout was expected to be high.

KEY FACTS
Men and women over the age of 20 years can vote
Voters: Population of 700,000, plus resident citizens of Gulf States
Political parties banned, so candidates are organised into "political societies"
National Assembly made up of 40 appointed and 40 elected members

Shia voters and other opposition groups boycotted the first parliamentary elections in 2002 because they wanted more constitutional change, says the BBC's correspondent in the Gulf, Julia Wheeler.

The result was a parliament of mostly pro-government MPs.

Many people have been disappointed with the efforts of those elected the first time around, says our correspondent, and want to see change implemented more quickly.

Campaigning has been lively and impassioned with economic and social issues dominating the agenda.

Unemployment among Bahraini nationals is a worry in the context of large numbers of mostly Asian migrant workers says our correspondent.

Lack of housing and unequal distribution of wealth in the kingdom are also concerns.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Bahraini citizens cast their votes



SEE ALSO
Q&A: Bahrain election
23 Nov 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: Bahrain
15 Nov 06 |  Country profiles
Bahrain woman heads UN assembly
08 Jun 06 |  Middle East
Explosion hits Bahraini capital
26 Apr 06 |  Middle East

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