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Boycott call as Bahrain holds poll

Voting has begun in Bahrain's first full parliamentary election since Arab Spring-protests erupted four years ago.

The country's Shiite opposition has called for voters to boycott the election.

A total of 419 candidates are running for municipal and parliamentary seats, state media says. Any candidates that do not secure more than 50% of the vote will head to a run-off a week later.

The elections, however, are unlikely to defuse tensions between Bahrain's Sunni monarchy and Shiite activists who continue to protest for greater rights and a greater say in government.

The elections are being watched closely by Bahrain's Gulf neighbours and Washington. Bahrain hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet and is part of the US-led coalition striking the Islamic State group.

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