Bahrain's parliament accepts opposition resignations

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The Independent Online

Bahrain's parliament has accepted the resignations of seven more lawmakers from the Shiite opposition in a move that could exacerbate sectarian tensions in the Gulf island kingdom.

The resignations were submitted in February over the deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters. The lawmakers acted alongside 11 other Shiite opposition members of parliament whose resignations were previously accepted.

Bahrain's 40-member parliament is now left with 22 lawmakers and is dominated by Sunnis. Elections to replace the 18 empty seats are scheduled for September.

Shiites make up about 70 percent of the population in a kingdom ruled by a 200-year-old Sunni dynasty. They were the driving force behind protests calling for political reforms that began in February.