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Bahrain reduces governorates to four, amends election law - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A metal sculpture of a ballot box holding the Bahraini flag, meant to encourage people to vote in the 2014 parliamentary and municipal elections, is seen on a side road in the affluent neighborhood of Saar north of Manama, Bahrain, on September 23, 2014. (EPA/Mazen Mahdi)

A metal sculpture of a ballot box holding the Bahraini flag, meant to encourage people to vote in the 2014 parliamentary and municipal elections, is seen on a side road in the affluent neighborhood of Saar north of Manama, Bahrain, on September 23, 2014. (EPA/Mazen Mahdi)

Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a royal decree on Monday reducing the number of governorates in the island kingdom, in a step aimed at achieving electoral balance ahead of the parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled for November.

Under the new decree, Bahrain will be divided into four governorates: one northern, one southern, the capital, and the Muharraq, the state-owned Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Monday.

The amendment, however, will not affect the total number of constituencies, 40, one of the bones of contention between the government and the opposition.

Samira Rajab, minister of state for media affairs and a spokeswoman for the Bahraini government, told Asharq Al-Awsat that due to demographic changes and the growth in housing projects over the past decade it became necessary for the government to redraw the boundaries of constituencies and governorates.

During the past, the division of governorates mainly depended on population distribution and urban growth, Rajab said. But the new royal decree has adopted the criterion of population density in the drawing of boundaries between constituencies.

The decree considered future growth in population and housing projects in each governorate, she added.

Meanwhile, the Bahraini monarch issued another decree amending some provisions of a 2003 law on the election of municipal council members.

The decree stipulates that “the boundaries of electoral constituencies and the number of the sub-committees will be determined as per an edict by the prime minister,” according to the BNA.

Eligible voters include those who meet the existing requirements and who have not been deprived of or exempted from the exercise of political rights during the registration or the electoral lists’ revision periods.