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23 February 2024

Kuwaitis start voting to elect new parliament


Kuwaitis started casting votes Thursday in a snap poll to elect the fourth parliament in less than six years with unofficial polls showing the Islamist-led opposition in the lead.

The election was called following bitter political disputes and youth-led street protests, inspired by the Arab Spring, that eventually forced the resignation of the previous government and the dissolving of parliament.

Twenty-three women are among 286 candidates running for the 50-seat legislative body, after one of the fiercest campaigns since OPEC member Kuwait introduced democracy in 1962.

During the campaign many candidates called for fundamental political reforms, including legalising political parties and a constitutional monarchy.

The main battle is between a loose opposition of Islamists, liberals and nationalists and candidates supporting the government, in addition to allies of former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

The campaign was marred by violence when angry tribesmen burned down the election tent of pro-government candidate Mohammed al-Juwaihel over remarks deemed offensive to a major Bedouin tribe.

Ballots close at 1700 GMT and results are expected early Friday.