Shia party wins 18 seats in Bahrain vote

24 October 2010 | 16:59 Code : 9085 General category

Press TV--The opposition has won nearly half of the parliamentary seats in the Saturday’s elections in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, the electoral commission says.

Election authorities said on Sunday that Bahrain’s main Shia opposition group, the Islamic National Accord Association (INAA), won 18 of the parliament’s 40 seats. 
 The 18 candidates of INAA were elected in the first round of the legislative polls, electoral commission chairman Abdullah al-Buainain told AFP.
Nine seats remain up for grabs in the second round of voting which is to take place on October 30, he went on to say.

Earlier, the opposition had criticized the process, saying Shia voters had been turned away from polling booths. The head of the largest Shia bloc lodged allegations of irregularities just less than an hour before voting closed.
Manama rejects the charges, amid concerns that even small numbers of votes could influence the results in a country with fewer than 319,000 eligible voters.
Head of the al-Wefaq party Sheik Ali Salman said that at least 890 voters were turned away from polling stations in mostly Shia areas because their names were not on electoral lists.

This is not the full number," Salman said at a news conference. "We expect it to be higher.
Nabeel Rajab, the director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said the government intended to make sure the country’s Shia majority would not gain power.
Hundreds of Shia people have been arrested since August, and at least 23 top opposition figures have been charged with plotting against Bahrain’s Sunni-dominated government.
Bahrain authorities have not allowed international election monitors, adding to worries among Shias of possible fraud and vote rigging.

Iran parliament rejects talks on uranium enrichment suspension

--Iran’s parliament said Sunday that the government should not enter any nuclear negotiations aimed at coercing Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported.

The deputy head of the parliament’s national security commission said the West should not think that sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council would force iran to relinquish its rights.

Mohammad-Esmail Kowsari said that instead of focusing on Iran’s legitimate right to pursue peaceful nuclear projects, the parties should prove their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and explore ways to enable global nuclear disarmament.

The office of European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has proposed resuming nuclear talks with Iran on November 15-17 in Vienna. The proposed talks would include the 5+1 major powers - the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.

Iran welcomed the initiative, but chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said the agenda would need to be clarified first.

Analysts say that there are gaps that need to be bridged, with Tehran preferring to discuss global issues such as disarmament, Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the financial crisis in the Middle East and around the world, while the Western powers insist that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Tehran views this demand as unacceptable.

Parliament member Vali Esmaeili said Iran should not allow world powers to impose any preconditions for the talks.

"The West should understand that Iran will never give up its nuclear rights and suspension of uranium enrichment," he said.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization chief, Ali-Akbar Salehi, proposed a uranium-swap deal as a basis for talks with the 5+1 group, to compromise on demands from both sides.

The swap deal - storing Iranian low-enriched uranium in Turkey and exchanging it with nuclear fuel from Russia and France for a medical reactor in Tehran - was raised during the previous round of negotiations a year ago in Geneva.

Official: Growth of Iran’s Exports Indicates Ineffectiveness of Sanctions

Fars News Agency
- Managing Director of the Commercial Development Office for Trade Promotion Organization of Iran Mohammad Mehdi Nahavandian reiterated that the volume of the country’s non-oil exports has increases by 30% showing that sanctions have not had any effect on Iran’s economy.

"Some 14.3 billion dollars of non-oil goods and gas condensates have been exported in the first half of the Iranian calendar year. That figure shows a 30 growth compared to the corresponding figure of the previous year," Nahavandian said. 
 He underlined that the foodstuff, plastic materials and oil products accounted for the most portion of Iran’s exports.
 Nahavandian also stressed that the jump in Iran’s exports shows that the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program have no affects on the country.
 The US-led West accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
 Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
 Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.
 Tehran has dismissed West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.
 Political observers believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran mainly over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries.

WikiLeaks files show ’truth’ on Iraq war: Assange

Tehran Times
– WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange said Saturday that 400,000 classified U.S. military documents leaked by the whistleblowing website showed the “truth” on the Iraq war.

“This disclosure is about the truth,” Assange told a news conference in London. “The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends. 

“We hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued on since the war officially concluded.”  

The mass of documents released late Friday offer a grim snapshot of the Iraq war, including showing the abuse of Iraqi civilians by Iraqi security forces.  

The heavily redacted logs appear to show that the U.S. military turned a blind eye to evidence of torture by the Iraqi authorities.  

Assange said they showed the war had been “a bloodbath on every corner”.  

The United States warned that the release of the documents could endanger the lives of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians, while the Iraqi government said the logs “did not contain any surprises”. Continued

Armenian PM to visit Tehran for economical conference

: Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan is to visit Tehran on Monday and discuss bilateral ties with Iranian officials.

 Armenian Prime Minister is to discuss bilateral relations as well as regional and international developments with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

Sargsyan officially invited by First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi is accompanied by a trade delegation during his two-day visit.

The delegation is to attend an economic-trade conference to be hosted by Tehran October 26.

Bahrain’s Shiites turn to ballots after crackdowns

Associated Press
-- After facing months of crackdowns, Shiite leaders in the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain awaited results Sunday from parliamentary elections they hope will be a show of strength against Sunni rulers. But early allegations of voting problems point to possible challenges to the outcome in this key Western ally.

The claims - which include hundreds of Shiites reportedly blocked from voting - could complicate hopes of cooling tensions after waves of arrests and street clashes between majority Shiites who claim widespread discrimination and the Sunni leadership seeking to maintain its grip. The voting Saturday is likely to resonate well beyond the 40-seat chamber at stake, and could touch on the long-term stability of Bahrain, a strategic American partner. As home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, the island nation is a centerpiece of Washington’s efforts to confront Iran’s military expansion in the Gulf. The latest unrest is part of discord that has simmered for decades in tiny Bahrain: Shiites pushing for a greater political voice and the ruling Sunni dynasty trying to protect its control and place among the Sunni Arab clans that dominate the Gulf. U.S. officials have toed a careful line. They count on Bahrain’s leaders as reliable friends - particularly for their tough stance on Iran - but also worry that the heavy-handed tactics against perceived dissidents could leave the country sharply divided and difficult to govern. Continued

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