Kuwaities gather at Iradah Square opposite of the National Assembly building in Kuwait City, on June 10, 2014 after opposition groups call for a rally
Kuwaities gather at Iradah Square opposite of the National Assembly building in Kuwait City, on June 10, 2014 after opposition groups call for a rally © Yasser al-Zayyat - AFP
Kuwaities gather at Iradah Square opposite of the National Assembly building in Kuwait City, on June 10, 2014 after opposition groups call for a rally
AFP
Last updated: June 27, 2014

Kuwait by-elections boost government grip on assembly

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Kuwaiti voters elected pro-government candidates to replace five opposition lawmakers who resigned two months ago in by-elections that saw one of the lowest turnouts in the emirate's history.

The results will boost the grip of the government on the 50-seat parliament where it already enjoyed a comfortable majority.

Almost all opposition groups boycotted the by-elections as they did the general elections held in February and December of 2012 which were both overturned by court judgements.

Authorities did not provide an official turnout figure but numbers posted on the information ministry website suggested it was around 23 percent.

Three of the five winners were former MPs, according to results announced early Friday. The Shiite minority community increased its representation from seven to eight seats.

The by-elections were called after opposition MPs Riyadh al-Adasani, Abdulkarim al-Kundari and Hussein al-Mutairi quit two months ago when parliament rejected their request to question Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, over allegations he gave cash handouts to lawmakers.

A few days later, Ali al-Rashed, a former speaker, and Safa al-Hashem, the only female MP, also resigned.

There are now no female MPs as all five women who stood in the by-elections lost.

The by-elections were held amid a new political crisis over allegations that two former senior officials plotted a coup and were engaged in a major corruption scam.

The high-profile case, involving senior members of the ruling family, prompted Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to appeal for calm in a televised address on Wednesday. The ruler urged Kuwaitis to allow the judiciary to handle the issue.

Between mid-2006 and last year, parliament was dissolved six times and there were more than a dozen governments.

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