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Kuwait to vote in lacklustre poll as disputes prevail

Kuwaitis head to the polls for a second parliamentary election in eight months.

Written by PTI | Kuwait |
July 25, 2013 11:31:10 am

Kuwaitis head to the polls Saturday for a second parliamentary election in eight months that opposition groups are boycotting and that is not expected to heal years of bitter divisions.

The election,the sixth in as many years for the oil-rich Gulf state follows a dull campaign that has failed to jolt apathetic voters into action.

At the heart of the issue is an amended electoral law that the constitutional court upheld in June,on the same day that it dissolved parliament and called the election.

Most Islamist,nationalist and liberal opposition groups are boycotting the poll,a repetition of their stance at the last one in December.

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The move is in protest over the law which they charge allows the government to manipulate election results and subsequent legislation.

“This election won’t bring political stability. It’s impossible,” liberal political analyst Anwar al-Rasheed told AFP. “This election seems to have no colour or taste. Major opposition groups are boycotting and people are frustrated and disinterested.

The election will not bring any positive change or any improvement,” said Rasheed,who has monitored several Arab and international elections.

The result has been a lacklustre campaign,with modest media coverage and small crowds attending rallies compared with the thousands they used to attract in the past. Not all opposition groups are boycotting the election this time,however,with the liberal National Democratic Alliance,key Bedouin tribes and a small number of opposition members taking part.

But analysts only expect a slight increase in voter turnout from December’s record low 40 percent as Saturday’s election comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and at the height of summer,when temperatures soar around 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

“Turnout is expected to be slightly higher than December but the general public mood is very negative… People are very frustrated at the situation in the country,” politics

professor Abdulwahed Khalfan told AFP. Khalfan,who supports the amended electoral law,said people were disappointed with the performance of the now dissolved parliament which was “extremely loyal” to the government despite its poor performance.

“The previous parliament gave very negative indications about Kuwait’s democracy. It became like a tool in the hands of the government,” he said.

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