Kuwaitis elect new parliament

Election is fifth since mid-2006 ; Stock index rises to 6-week high

Kuwaitis have elected a parliament including many newcomers which may prove more government-friendly than its predecessor but could lack legitimacy in the eyes of some due to a low voter turnout.

Kuwait's stock index rose to a six-week high with retail investors more confident the government would be able to follow through on plans to develop the economy.

About 39 per cent of the 422,569 eligible voters cast ballots, according to a Reuters calculation based on voting figures posted on Sunday on an Information Ministry website.

It was not clear if the figures included invalid votes and ministry officials were not immediately available for a comment.

Opposition politicians said they believed the participation was lower than that figure. Turnout in the past three elections was about 60 per cent.

Investors appear confident the new parliament will be more cooperative with the government, allowing it to pursue long due infrastructure projects, said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House. "Overall sentiment is positive," he said.

A change to voting rules was announced six weeks ago by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which cut the number of votes per citizen to one from four.

Shi'ite candidates won about a third of seats in parliament, Kuwaiti media reported.

The 83-year-old emir said his emergency decree in October to change voting rules would fix a flawed system and ensure national unity.


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