Kuwait sets date for latest elections

21 October 2012

Poll on 1 December could face boycotts

Kuwaitis will be back at the polls for another round of parliamentary elections on 1 December, the second in less than a year, amid calls for a boycott from members of the opposition.

The government announced the date for the National Assembly elections on 20 October, along with changes to the voting system, the local English-language Kuwait Times reports.

“The cabinet approved the amendment of article 2 of the electoral law to change the voting system,” according to a statement on state-run Kuwait News Agency.

This is despite a ruling by the constitutional court in September that the current electoral law was in line with the constitution. The electoral constituency law was issued in 2006 dividing the Gulf state into five districts, each electing 10 members of parliament to the 50-member National Assembly. Voters will now be restricted to choosing only one candidate in each electoral district.

No Emiri decree making the amendment official has been issued yet.

The Kuwait Times reports that almost all opposition groups, Bedouin tribes and around 50 former members of parliament plan to boycott the election. Opposition members have described the government’s move as a “coup against the constitution”.

Protests and rallies are expected to be held at Seif Palace, the seat of the government, although the Interior Ministry has already said it will not allow any gatherings in the area. Four anti-government demonstrators were arrested after they clashed with Kuwaiti security forces on 16 October.

Parliament was dissolved for the second time in less than a year on 7 October by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. The emir previously dissolved parliament in December 2011. Elections in February ended with a parliamentary majority for the opposition.

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