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Officials Report Low Turnout in Bahrain, UAE Elections

Emiratis cast their votes at a voting station in Dubai, ahead of the Federal National Council elections, September 24, 2011.

Turnout was low for elections Saturday in the Gulf nations of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

In Bahrain, the Shi'ite opposition boycotted parliamentary elections to fill 18 seats vacated in February, when Shi'ite lawmakers in the Wefaq party quit to protest the government's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Candidates for four of the 18 seats ran unopposed.

Witnesses in Bahrain said Saturday's voter turnout was very light, but state media quoted the prime minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, as saying a "massive" turnout has revealed the willingness of citizens to be partners in building democracy and national unity.

First results are expected by early Sunday.

In the UAE, voters hand picked by the Emirates' rulers cast ballots to elect half of the members of a National Advisory Council. The balloting was only the second of its kind in the country's history as the seven emirates gradually introduce representation.

The council has no legislative powers and can only make recommendations to the ruling body.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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