News / Middle East

    Kuwait Court Orders Dissolution of Parliament, New Elections

    Laywer Ali al Ali speaks to the media in Kuwait City, June 16, 2013, after leaving the courthouse to announce the court's decision to dissolve parliament. Laywer Ali al Ali speaks to the media in Kuwait City, June 16, 2013, after leaving the courthouse to announce the court's decision to dissolve parliament.
    x
    Laywer Ali al Ali speaks to the media in Kuwait City, June 16, 2013, after leaving the courthouse to announce the court's decision to dissolve parliament.
    Laywer Ali al Ali speaks to the media in Kuwait City, June 16, 2013, after leaving the courthouse to announce the court's decision to dissolve parliament.
    Reuters
    Kuwait's top court ordered the dissolution of parliament on Sunday and called for fresh elections, a ruling likely to herald fresh political volatility in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state.
        
    The Constitutional Court made its ruling after throwing out opposition challenges to changes to the electoral system decreed by the emir, hereditary ruler of the oil-exporting country, head judge Youssef al-Mutawa told reporters.
        
    Political stability in Kuwait, owner of more than six percent of global oil reserves, has traditionally depended on cooperation between the government and parliament, the oldest and most powerful legislature in the Gulf Arab states.
        
    The development is a blow to opposition politicians who boycotted a parliamentary election in December in protest at the electoral rules. The election was the fifth since 2006 and political upheaval has held up economic development and reforms.
        
    "This verdict today is the worst decision," former opposition MP Waleed Tabtabie wrote on Twitter.
        
    The new voting rules, decreed six weeks before the poll, triggered mass protests. Police packed the court complex on Sunday after opposition figures said they would demonstrate if the emir's decree was upheld.
        
    The opposition case challenged the constitutionality of the move by the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, to reduce the number of votes allowed per citizen in parliamentary elections to one from four.
        
    Political parties are banned in Kuwait so candidates campaign on an independent basis. Under the old system, voters could place four votes of equal weight for a candidate in their constituency. In December elections they could pick only one.
        
    Protesters said the new rules aimed to weaken the opposition, which was able to form effective parliamentary alliances under the old four-vote system in the absence of parties. The government said the new voting system brought Kuwait in line with other countries.
        
    The court ruling may divide the opposition, most of whose politicians have said they would not contest elections under the one-vote rule, though some may decide to re-enter the political system now the change has been approved by the top court.
        
    Protests
        
    Kuwait, which sits in a strategic position between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and across the Gulf from Iran, has the most democratic political system in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Its parliament has legislative powers and can hold government ministers to account.
        
    However the emir has the final say in state matters and chooses the prime minister who in turn picks a cabinet, with members of the ruling Al-Sabah family occupying the top posts.
        
    "The court's decision today enhances the durability of the democratic system," Information Minister Sheikh Salman al-Humoud al-Sabah said in a statement.
        
    Last year's disturbances were unusual in their size and because those involved directly questioned the emir's policies. He is described as immune and inviolable in the constitution and dozens of Kuwaitis have been charged with insulting him, mainly on social media.
        
    He is due to address the nation on state television later on Sunday. According to the court ruling, the emir must dissolve parliament and call elections. That could happen after the holy month of Ramadan which starts early next month.
        
    Opposition politicians, who boycotted December's poll in protest at the decree, said changes to the voting system should be agreed by parliament.
        
    The opposition boycott of the election meant that liberals, Shi'ites, non-aligned MPs and newcomers to parliamentary politics were elected to the assembly, working relatively well with the Cabinet.
        
    The more cooperative political environment has helped fuel a more than 30 percent rise of the stock exchange since the beginning of the year.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora