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Larger part of opposition forces boycott elections in Kuwait

July 27, 2013, 7:28 UTC+3
As many as 321 candidates, including eight women, are running for 50 deputy seats in the National Assembly
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Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

BEIRUT, July 27 (Itar-Tass) - Early parliamentary elections, which will be the second ones for the last eight months, will be held in the Emirate of Kuwait on Saturday. As many as 321 candidates, including eight women, are running for 50 deputy seats in the National Assembly.

As many as 439,715 nationals, who turned 21 years, have the suffrage right in this rich, oil-producing Persian country, the news agency KUNA reported. Meanwhile, 53% of electorate are women.

According to the traditions of the Kuwaiti democracy, men and women will vote separately at the polling stations, which are located at 100 local schools.

A 46-degree heat spell and the boycott of a larger part of opposition forces will probably affect the activity of the voters. The turnout at the elections on December 1, 2012 reached 38.8%. However, the ruling circles headed by Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah, 84, hope that these elections will result in a political detente after heated two-year debates in the Kuwaiti society, which were called the Arab Spring.

The National Democratic Alliance, which is an opposition union of liberally minded people, who call for cardinal reforms, and which was formed in 1997, agreed to run in the elections. Last December the National Democratic Alliance joined the boycott, which was declared to the Islamists and the nationalists. The leadership of three mostly influential Kuwaiti tribes - Avazim, Ajman and Muteir responded to the appeal of the amir that changed the alignment of forces before the elections.

According to Arab experts, the split in the opposition and some changes in the moods of the tribal elite point to the fact that experienced Sheikh Sabah will probably defeat his political rivals this time. Staying at the helm of the country since 2006 Sheikh Sabah dissolved the National Assembly six times and dismissed the government nine times.

However, leader of the populist Popular Action Bloc, former parliamentary speaker Ahmad al-Saadun and the Islamic traditionalists from local Muslim Brothers and the Salafites continue insisting on introducing amendments in the country’s constitution, which would vest the parliament with the right to form the government.

Essential disagreements between the two ruling clans - Jabir and Salem in the Sabah dynasty ruling for 250 years are behind the political struggle in Kuwait, expert for the oil-producing Persian states Kristian Ulrichsen said. The split between them was caused by a century-old tradition disrupted in 2006. According to the tradition, one clan changed another one in the leadership of the country.

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