12/03/2012, 00.00
KUWAIT
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Elections: historic success for Shia minority. Turnout below 30%

The population responds to the boycott launched by the opposition. Vote in danger of being canceled. The Islamist parties, nationalists and liberals announcing protests until parliament is dissolved.

Kuwait (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the first time ever the Shiite minority has won 15 seats out of 50 in the December 1st elections for the renewal of Kuwait's parliament. The vote was boycotted by the opposition parties: Islamists, nationalists and liberals. The elections last February, canceled by authorities, the Shiite Muslims had won only 7 seats out of 50. According to polls by the opposition to the current government dominated by tribes loyal to the Emir Sabah al-Sabah - only 26.6% of registered voters went to the polls, thus making the vote invalid. However, the website of the Ministry of Interior says that the turnout was 38.8%.

Governed by the Emir Sabah al-Sabah, Kuwait is the oldest monarchy in the Gulf. The dynasty of Sabah is actually in power since the late '700. The system of government is parliamentary. In reality the heir to the throne is also the prime minister, but parliament can decide to remove him.

The current crisis began last March after the victory of the Islamists in elections, marking a historic achievement for the country that has always been close to the positions of the western states. For fear of the extremists, the Emir ruled the current electoral law unconstitutional. He annulled the vote in March, proposing new elections for December 1.

Ahmad al-Saadoun, historical opposition leader, said that "the vote is unconstitutional." This position is also supported by many former members of parliament linked to the royal family, who contest the position taken by the Emir, who in February annulled the elections won by opposition parties. According to the People's Committee in favor of the boycott, the parliament does not represent the Kuwaiti people. Today, the Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition coalition announced a general mobilization until the current parliament is not dissolved.

Mohammad al-Ajmi, a political analyst, fears a new phase of instability in the country. "The boycott - he says - renders any action by the newly formed parliamentary null and void." The researcher points out that Awazen, the Mutair and Ajmans, the three major Bedouin tribes in Kuwait (about 500 thousand people) have only one representative, compared to an average of 15.

 

 

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