Saturday, December 1, 2012
Kuwait votes amidst big protests
(Photo Kuwait Times)
Kuwait is holding elections on Saturday amidst wide spread protests over changes made to the voting rules last month. In one of the biggest rallies in Kuwait's history tens of thousands took to the streets on Friday to call for a boycot.
“The people want the downfall of the decree,” chanted the massive crowds in reference to the Amiri decree that amended the electoral law cutting the number of candidates a voter can choose from a maximum of four to just one. The opposition has maintained the decree is unconstitutional and will only lead to the election of a pro-government National Assembly by encouraging vote-buying and other corrupt practices.
Kuwait has had months of confrontations between the opposition and government. The crisis was sparked in June, when the Constitutional Court annulled parliamentary elections held in February, in which the Islamist-led opposition made significant gains. The court also reinstated the previous assembly, allied to the ruling family.
After months of protests, Kuwait's emir ordered the dissolution of that parliament and announced new elections. The disputed decree was ordered by the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, on 19 Octobert.
The Kuwait Times reports that about 306 candidates are running for the 50 seats in the Assembly, after a last-minute drama over about 30 candidates who were disqualified by the National Election Commission but then reinstated by the administrative court. Around 23 former MPs and 13 female candidates are among the hopefuls. According to the paper it is the lowest number of former MPs bidding for reelection in any Kuwaiti polls in more than 30 years because all opposition former MPs have boycotted the elections.