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Pro-Government Candidates Hold On in Bahrain Runoffs

A Bahraini couple cast ballots Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, at a general polling station set up on the Bahrain side of a bridge connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. After months of street unrest, voters in the island kingdom of Bahrain were choosing a new par

Pro-government candidates in Bahrain have won all nine seats in a runoff election.

Election officials on Sunday released the results of Saturday's runoff, which featured few opposition candidates.

The results give backers of the country's Sunni-led government a slight majority in the 40-member lower house of parliament.

Bahrain's main opposition Shi'ite Muslim political bloc made slight gains during the first round of voting a week earlier. All 18 of its candidates won seats in parliament, a one-seat gain from the previous election in 2006.

Shi'ites make up more than 70 percent of Bahrain's population, but the country is ruled by a Sunni royal family. The country's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa appoints members of parliament's upper house.

The United States has a key interest in the vote. Pro-Western Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf at a time when Western concerns about Iran's nuclear development program have risen sharply.

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