Kuwait heads to the polls as opposition activists urge boycott
Kuwaitis are heading to the polls today after weeks of protests over electoral reform. It is the second election this year, as a political crisis mounts in the country.
Yesterday opposition activists who are boycotting the elections held a large rally. They complain that new electoral rules will skew the result in favour of pro-government parties.
Previously the electorate could vote for four candidates. This has since been reduced to one. The move by the ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, was taken under emergency powers in the hope of preserving a semblance of security and normality.
Kuwait’s wealth comes from its oil, which accounts for 90 per cent of the economy, and pays for a generous system of benefits for the citizens.
Kuwait is seen as one of the most democratically free countries in the region, and is a major ally of the United States.
Polls opened at 8 am local time, and remain open for twelve hours. 423,000 people are registered to vote, but the turnout will be key for whoever is elected to claim legitimacy.
The state-backed news agency KUNA, has quoted an official saying that results are expected three hours after polls close.