Friday, February 3, 2012

(Islamist) opposition wins big in Kuwait

Checking the boxes. (AFP)

Kuwait's Islamist-led opposition has made significant gains in the Gulf state's fourth parliamentary election in six years. Opposition candidates won 34 of the 50 seats in the National Assembly, with 23 of them going to Sunni Islamists.Liberals won nine seats. Women did not win any. There were four women in the last parliament, but Ayesh al-Rasheed, a journalist and 2009 candidate, felt “women wouldn’t have won the four seats in the last election had they not had government support.”
Friday's results showed Islamist candidates, including ultra-conservative Salafists, winning 14 seats, while independent Islamists representing tribes took nine. Tribal-based candidates took 20 seats overall.Another seven seats went to candidates from the Shia minority community, which generally sides with the Sabah family.
Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, called the snap election amid a crisis over corruption allegations.He said in December that "deteriorating conditions" had led to "difficulties in achieving progress and threatened the country's higher interests". In November, the cabinet resigned shortly before former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah was to be asked about the alleged payment of bribes to pro-government MPs. Protesters had stormed the parliament building the previous month when the government tried to prevent Sheikh Nasser facing questions.
Sixty-two percent of Kuwaitis cast their vote on Thursday, this is up slightly from the 2009 election with 58 percent casting ballots. Kuwait’s rulers still retain full control over the country, but the parliament can challenge policies, initiate legislation, and bring no-confidence motions against officials. ”Meaningful constitutional reform is unlikely under the leadership of the current emir.

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