05/20/2008, 00.00
KUWAIT
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With election victory, Kuwait's Islamic radicals demand new government

They are Islamists of both the majority Sunni groups and the Shiite minority; fears of new tensions between the two communities. The losers are the moderates, now clearly in the minority. This time as well, no woman was elected.

Kuwait City (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Having won the elections, the Islamic radicals want a new prime minister who "will get along with the parliament" and form a majority government to "fight vigorously against corruption and reform the government administration".  This request has been presented by Waleed Al-Tabtabae, a representative of the Sunni Islamic group that with 21 members of parliament has made the strongest gains in a parliament of 50 seats,  which has legislative powers and can remove individual ministers, but does not govern and cannot revoke the mandate of the executive branch, which is one of the rights of the emir.  The emir has done this twice in the past two years, because of disagreements between the government and parliament.

Together with the Sunnis, the influence of the radicals is strengthened by the 10 members of parliament elected from the "Salafi Islamic Alliance".

It was hoped that the elections on Sunday the 18th would produce a majority that would be able to bring greater stability to the country, but it is difficult at this time to say whether this hope has been realised.  In addition to the radical Sunni group, in fact, the Shiite minority (which represents about a third of the population) increased its presence in the parliament from one member to five, all of whom are Islamists.  Two of them were even at the centre of a controversy over their decision to attend the March funeral of Imad Mughnieh, the assassinated military head of Hezbollah, considered a terrorist  in the West and responsible, among other things, for the hijacking of a Kuwaiti airplane in 1980.

The defeated groups are the nationalist Popular Action Block, which obtained four seats, and the moderate Islamic Constitutional Movement, which together with its allies has only seven seats.  This, together with the failure of any of the 27 women candidates to be elected - leaving parliament without any female members - confirms the conservatism of the population, guided by directions from the tribal leaders and the men, and has led to fears of tensions between Sunnis and Shiites.

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