ABU DHABI Ñ Weeks after the resumption of parliamentary life in
Bahrain, the new legislature is demanding real power.
Many in the 40-seat parliament are calling on King Hamad Bin Isa Al
Khalifa to grant the new body legislative and oversight authority over the
government. They argue that without these powers parliament will remain
On Dec. 14, King Hamad inaugurated the first parliament in Bahrain since
1975. Bahrain maintained a suspension on parliamentary elections amid unrest
attributed to Iran.
Parliament is composed of two houses. Members of the House of Deputies
were elected in October. The Shura council is appointed by the king.
The two houses were given equal authority. The House is dominated by
Islamic fundamentalists, some of whom have called for a ban on liquor and an
end to the U.S. military presence in the kingdom.
Bahraini parliamentarians have drafted a letter to Hamad that calls for
more authority for the House. The letter asserted that expanding the powers
of the House would fulfill the king's pledge for democracy.
"We would like to emphasize our determination to cooperate with the
members of the Shura Council while stressing the importance of giving the
House of Deputies more legislative and monitoring powers that suit the hopes
of the Bahraini people," the parliamentary letter read. "We, the people's
representatives, will stand by Your Majesty in the fight against all sorts
of corruption through fully transparent monitoring system."
House Speaker Khalifa Al Dahrani said the letter will be relayed to
Hamad soon. Al Dahrani did not rule out that parliament would initiate
efforts to revise the constitution that would change the balance of power
between the House and Shura.
"Why should we ask the King for something we could do," Al Dahrani said.
Hamad has urged parliament to focus on economic issues. With a jobless
rate of 15 percent, Bahrain is said to have the highest unemployment among
the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.