People in Bahrain are electing representatives for the lower house of parliament, the third such vote since it became a constitutional monarchy.

Bahrain’s voters have started picking a new parliament after months of unrest in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Voting stations are scheduled to stay open until Saturday evening in the key American ally, which includes the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The voting for the 40—seat parliament comes amid a sweeping crackdown by Sunni rulers against Shiites accused of trying to destabilize the country. Bahrain’s majority Shiites say they only seek greater rights.

The outcome of the election poses no challenge to Bahrain’s leaders. But it could provide a forum for demands for more accountability if Shiites make a strong showing.

First results are expected hours after the polls close.

Keywords: CrackdownSunni rulersShiites

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