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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid