News / Middle East

Divided Kuwait to Vote for New Parliament

Supporters are seen walking next to a campaign banner of Osama Yousif Al-Tahoos, candidate from Third District, Kuwait City, July 26, 2013.Supporters are seen walking next to a campaign banner of Osama Yousif Al-Tahoos, candidate from Third District, Kuwait City, July 26, 2013.
x
Supporters are seen walking next to a campaign banner of Osama Yousif Al-Tahoos, candidate from Third District, Kuwait City, July 26, 2013.
Supporters are seen walking next to a campaign banner of Osama Yousif Al-Tahoos, candidate from Third District, Kuwait City, July 26, 2013.
Phillip Walter Wellman
Kuwaitis will be voting for a new parliament on Saturday for the third time since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. The election follows protracted political tension in the Gulf state, and observers say it is unlikely to help mend deep-rooted divisions within the country.
 
A Kuwaiti court in June called for the new poll after deeming the parliament elected in December 2012 unconstitutional. The decision came one year after the previous opposition-led assembly was dissolved for other irregularities, a move that sparked major street protests.
 
While Kuwait has avoided sustained unrest like that recently seen in other Arab nations, many citizens frustrated by political deadlock have been publicly voicing their grievances and demanding governmental reform.

Late last year, the country witnessed some of the largest demonstrations in its history when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce a major change to voting procedures.
 
The new rule, which was handed down directly by the emir, reduces the number of votes each citizen can cast in parliamentary elections from four to one.
 
Supporters say the change is aimed at preventing future political stalemate; opponents say it stops the opposition from forming a majority in parliament.
 
The amendment has been upheld for Saturday’s poll and several opposition groups are boycotting the election as a result.
 
Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, said voter turnout also is expected to be low.

"People have cold feet when it comes to this election and some are assuming that this existing parliament to be elected will not also last for more than a year," said Ghabra.
 
Kuwait’s political system is the most open in the Gulf, with members of parliament allowed to pass legislation and question Cabinet ministers chosen by the emir.

Constant disputes between parliamentarians and ministers, however, have been hindering economic reform and development.

Despite being one of the richest countries per capita thanks to its vast oil wealth, Kuwait lags behind most of its Gulf neighbors when it comes to initiating new modernization projects.
 
Ahmed al-Obaid, a student at the American University of Kuwait and a voter, said modernization is an important issue among many Kuwaitis his age.
 
"We want the government to build something for Kuwaiti people such as the universities, the hospitals. We want to be like neighboring countries, such as Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia," he said.
 
Kuwait-based economist Hajjaj Bokhdour said the country has tremendous potential.
 
"The economical problem in Kuwait is not because of the resources, is not because of the [lack of] opportunities, it is because of management," said Bokhdour.

The upcoming election will see 50 parliamentarians selected from five constituencies.

According to the Ministry of Information, more than 300 candidates will be vying for seats. As political parties are outlawed in Kuwait, all are running on an individual basis.
 
Despite the parliament’s relatively strong powers, the emir still has the final say in all state affairs.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid