MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) – Bahrain’s Shiite-led opposition lost a bid to gain control of parliament in runoff elections, Bahrain state-run television reported, citing official results.

The opposition, led by the country’s majority Shiites, gained two seats during Saturday’s runoff for a total of 18 of the 40 seats in the parliament’s elected lower house.

Pro-government Sunnis gained nine seats in the runoff, for a total of 22.

Despite failing to win a majority, the election was being hailed as a major step forward for Bahrain’s Shiites and democracy. It was the first vote in which the Shiite-led opposition made a strong run in parliament after boycotting the elections in 2002 .

– the country’s first after 26 years of direct rule by the al-Khalifa royal family.

Shiites have long complained they are squeezed out of power by the Sunni monarchy.

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