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Kuwait dissolves parliament, snap elections called for November

The early vote is the latest in a decade-long battle of ideas between the royal family and opposition figures. It is likely to be a contentious campaign, as opponents who boycotted the previous two elections plan to run.

The emir of Kuwait has dissolved parliament after the speaker of the legislature called snap elections for November 26, ostensibly citing security and economic concerns.

But the dissolution of parliament, a year before its term expires, comes in response to a growing dispute over the hiking of gasoline prices. Lawmakers had filed three requests to question ministers over a Cabinet decision to raise prices, as well as allegations of financial violations.

Slumping oil prices have forced crude-rich Arab states like Kuwait to implement austerity measures to combat declining revenues.

 

Candidates for the early vote will be able to register for the election as soon as a decree is published in the official gazette, which is expected in the coming days.

It is likely to be a contentious election as opposition parties that boycotted the previous two ballot contests - to protest changing the voting system - are expected to participate in the upcoming vote.

Three government ministers who want to run in the polls have tendered their resignations from the Cabinet, according to the official KUNA news agency.

Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (Reuters/A. Perawongmetha)

Kuwait's emir called snap elections for November 26

Decade of political turmoil

This is the seventh time the Kuwaiti parliament has been dissolved since 2006, amid ongoing feuds between opposition lawmakers and the government. However, the past three years were relatively stable.

A variety of groups stepped up pressure on the ruling Al Sabah family, which is led by 87-year-old emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, during the Arab Spring. It was driven by growing anger over allegations of fiscal mismanagement, corruption and efforts to police social media.

Subsequently, Kuwait used prison sentences and threatened to strip dissidents of their citizenship as a means of cracking down on dissenting voices.

Kuwait was the first Gulf state to adopt parliamentary democracy in 1962.

The chamber enjoys legislative and monitoring authority but the government is comprised of outside elected MPs and is led by a senior member of the Al-Sabah ruling family.

Kuwait is one of the wealthiest members of OPEC, pumping about 3 million barrels of oil a day. Its cradle-to-grave welfare system pampers its nationals, who make up 30 percent of its population of 4.7 million.

bik/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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