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Kuwait elections begin as opposition boycott poll

27th Jul 2013

Voting has begun in the oil-rich Gulf nation of Kuwait, in the country’s second general election in eight months. The opposition has called for a boycott of the poll.

Kuwait’s sixth election in seven years is being held after a constitutional court ruling in June, which invalidated the last vote in December because of to a technical problem in the process leading up to the poll.

The opposition called for a boycott, saying that taking part in Saturday’s poll would legitimize corruption. It is disputing an electoral law that it alleges unfairly favors pro-government candidates.

In June, the court upheld a previous ruling in which it approved the new voting regulations, which allows each voter to cast a ballot for just one candidate, instead of four, as was the case previously.

Since the December election, opposition politicians had refused to take their seats in parliament in protest against the new voting rules.

Kuwait has been dogged by a series of political spats in recent years; critics of the gradual reforms in the country claim that parliamentary elections do not dilute the power of the ruling al Sabah family. Saturday’s election will be the sixth time Kuwaiti voters are to go to the polls since 2006.

The vote is also the first ever in Kuwait to be called during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when those observant to the tradition fast during the day. Temperatures in Bahrain can often reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) during the summer months. Like the opposition call for a boycott, these conditions were expected to take their toll on turnout.

Reham Al-Jlewi (pictured above), a candidate from Third District, is one of 6 female candidates out of a total of 306 candidates.

jr/msh (AP, AFP)

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Sectarianism in the Middle East and its rise in the UK, Standpoint, Sahar TV. Interview 29 May 2013 and aired on 12 June 2013

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