Kuwait goes to polls for second time in two years

May 17th, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by admin  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Dubai, May 17 (IANS) Kuwait went to the polls Saturday, the second time in two years, to elect its 50-member parliament. The elections were held in the Gulf city-state under a new five-constituency system instead of the earlier 25-constituency system.

A total of 275 men and 27 women are contesting for the 50 seats.

Women are contesting for the second time in Kuwait’s election history.

Saturday’s elections were being held after Kuwait’s entire cabinet resigned March 17 amid strained relationship between the legislative and the executive wings of the country.

Tension arose between cabinet members and legislators in March after the latter demanded higher pay hikes for the nationals than what the government had announced.

In February, the Kuwaiti government had announced a salary hike of 120 Kuwaiti dinars ($440) for all Kuwaitis, including those working in the private sector.

Kuwait’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, had then dissolved parliament. It was the fifth time that Kuwait’s parliament was dissolved in the Gulf nation’s 45-year-old parliamentary history.

Kuwait had voted its first parliament to power in 1963, two years after gaining independence from Britain.

According to the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah visited various polling stations in different constituencies during the course of voting.

He expressed his satisfaction with at the way the problem-free voting was conducted, according to KUNA.

The local press gave wide coverage to the polls stressing on the new five-constituency system.

“The nature of this election is going to be vastly different with the number of constituencies cut to five from 25,” the Arab Times daily said.

“Along with redefined constituencies, new developments and political equations will make results inestimable. Suspense will loom large until the last ballot paper is counted,” it said.

Though Kuwaiti rules do not allow official political parties, it does allow informal political groups whose members can stand for parliamentary elections.

Over 361,500 Kuwaiti nationals were eligible to vote in Saturday’s elections.

The oil-rich nation is home to around 550,000 expatriate Indians.

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