The National News reported that hackers targeted official websites in Bahrain just hours before the start of a parliamentary election to elect the 40 members of the Council of Representatives. While the Ministry of Interior did not yet identify all the websites targeted, the country’s state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA) could not be reached online, nor could the website for Bahrain’s parliament. In a series of screenshots taken by internet users, many speculated that the hack was carried out by an unknown account called Al-Toufan, or “The Flood” in Arabic. These are merely speculations as no evidence can pinpoint yet a suspect in this cyberattack.
The country claimed it had been the subject of a “state-backed hack in an attempt to undermine the voting process” in a statement to The Associated Press. However, the state suspected of carrying out the attack was not identified. The attack had no impact on the voting process since all systems were up and running during the election. Even Bahrain’s official television broadcasted images of individuals casting their ballots, and the country’s 55 polling places reported that the election went “smoothly.”
In a statement by The Guardian, there was a ban on candidates including two main opposition groups: the Shia Al-Wefaq and secular Waad parties which were dissolved in 2016 and 2017. This comes as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi, announced that his party is boycotting the general elections. The reasons justifying this boycott are said to be diverse but mainly concern the failure to implement a crucial reform in the country.
On the other hand, the Bahraini government in 2018 accused those two groups of “advocating violence, supporting terrorism and incitement to encourage crimes.” The government also claimed that Individuals who “intentionally harm or disrupt the constitutional and parliamentary process” will be prohibited from running for office and participating in upcoming elections.
In this election, Bahrainis are choosing 40 members for the lower house of parliament, the Council of Representatives, as well as 30 members of the municipality council. According to the final lists, a total of 507 candidates are taking part in the elections, including 94 women, BNA stated.