Information Minister opens elections’ Media Centre
Manama, Information Affairs Minister and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD), Ali bin Mohammed Al-Romaihi, has stressed that the fifth session of the parliamentary and municipal elections represents a new step on the path of the continuous political and democratic reform under His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's pioneering comprehensive Reform Project.
The minister was speaking while opening today the Media Centre of the parliamentary and municipal elections, in the presence of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister, and Chairman of the High Committee to Oversee the Integrity of the Elections, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, President of the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission President and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the elections, Chancellor Nawaf Abdulla Hamza, officials and representatives of local and international media outlets.
Al-Romaihi valued highly the existing constructive cooperation with the High Committee to Oversee the Integrity of the Elections, the Executive Committee of the elections and the competent security and organisation authorities in ensuring the holding of the democratic event, and covering it in civilised and positive atmospheres.
The minister affirmed that the popular participation in the fifth elections is a constitutional right guaranteed by HM the King's Reform Project since 2002, adding that it is a national duty that embodies the citizens' awareness and responsibility to express their opinion in a civilised, peaceful and democratic way, as well as their freedom to choose national competencies that are capable of representing them, exercising their broad legislative and supervisory powers and developing the municipal councils, in cooperation with the Executive Branch.
Al-Romaihi added that this pioneering royal Reform Project is not confined to the elections, but it is a comprehensive civilisational project stemming from the national will in its achievements since its launch by popular consensus through the inauguration of the National Action Charter 18 years ago, the adoption of the constitutional amendments of 2002, and the establishment of the state of law and institutions.
Among the most important features of the royal Reform Project are the reinstatement of parliamentary life through the Council of Representatives and the Shura Council, the strengthening of the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary, and the guaranteeing of the political and civil rights, including the freedom of the press and the media, he explained.
The minister pointed to the success of the Kingdom, under the leadership of HM the King, in building an integrated executive, judicial and human rights system for the protection of political, civil and social rights and freedoms.
This includes mainly the establishment of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Judicial Council, the Public Prosecution, the Supreme Council for Women, the National Audit Office, the Royal Charity Organisation, the National Institution for Human Rights, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, the Labour Fund (Tamkeen), in addition to activating the role of civil society through 639 civil, rights and political associations, he said.
The minister also referred to the establishment of the Bahrain Institute for Political Development and its national role in supporting the electoral process as part of its commitment to consolidating sound democratic principles and enhancing the parliamentary and municipal experience through the implementation of training and awareness-rising programmes, including the National Elections 2018 Programme,"Darrib", with the participation of candidates and media personnel.
Tackling the media coverage of the parliamentary and municipal elections, Al-Romaihi stressed that it is underway since the issuance of the Royal Order on setting the date of the elections, pointing out to the participation of 510 of the Information Affairs Ministry's affiliates and competencies in highlighting the democratic event in various local, Arab and international media outlets.
He also spoke about the reports, interviews, news programmes, talk shows and awareness-raising programmes published in BNA, and broadcast on radio and TV channels, as well as social media networks to urge the citizens to exercise their political rights as candidates or voters to support the democratic process.
He also said that the candidates had been allowed to present their electoral programmes on TV according to the equal opportunities principle.
The minister highlighted the Information Ministry's keenness to support the National Communication Centre when preparing the Media Centre and providing it with all the media and technical equipment, including two studios for direct radio and television broadcasting.
He added that the centre provides local, Arab and foreign media with data, reports and news reports via modern technologies, 27 links for news exchange and satellite booking.
He also pointed out to the facilities put forward for the participation of 120 media persons from outside the kingdom, and the representatives of 80 Arab and foreign news agencies, newspapers and television channels to facilitate their coverage of the event.
He also said that outside broadcasting vans and other techniques and facilities had been put in place to ensure live converge of the elections.
The minister asserted that the democratic festival witnessed by Bahrain affirms that under the leadership of HM the King, and thanks to the support of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and the backing of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, as well as the awareness and cohesion of its people, the kingdom is on the right track to continue consolidating its pioneering status as a role model for political reform, wise governance, tolerance, peaceful co-existence, progress and sustainable development.
Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister, and Chairman of the High Committee to Oversee the Integrity of the Elections, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, said that the Bahraini judiciary constitutes a basic guarantee for the fairness and impartiality of the municipal and parliamentary elections, noting that a large turnout in the electoral process is expected.
The minister pointed out that a total of 430 candidates, the highest since 2002, are running for the elections, noting that 293 candidates, 41 of whom are women, are running for parliamentary seats, six women are running for municipal councils' seats and seven political societies are participating in the elections.
He said that a total of 365,467 citizens are eligible to vote in the elections, including more than 50,000 male and female youths who will vote for the first time, noting that personal messages have been sent to youth voters, given the fact that youth are the pillar of the nation and its asset for the future.
The Justice Minister said that 54 polling stations will open at 08:00 am, adding that 14 of them are general and are distributed across the kingdom.
Shaikh Khalid bin Ali asserted that Bahrainis have always proved their full loyalty to the nation and constant keenness to build their nation and consolidate their democratic process launched by HM King Hamad, out of their belief in their nation and leadership.
He expressed hope that the next Parliament will meet the aspirations of the citizens and achieve their goals.
Source: Bahrain News Agency