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Elections

Kuwait to hold sixth election in seven years

Voters in Kuwait are set to go to the polls to elect a new parliament. This is just the latest development in a row over changes to the country's election rules that were implemented last year.

Kuwait's cabinet approved a decree on Thursday confirming that a snap election would be held next month.

"At an extraordinary meeting held today, the cabinet approved a draft decree inviting voters to elect members of the National Assembly on July 25," the country's state minister for cabinet affairs, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah al-Sabah, told the official KUNA news agency.

The move follows a ruling handed down by Kuwait's constitutional court earlier in the week, in which it ordered that the current parliament be dissolved. The court found that there was a technical problem in the process leading up to the December vote, when the latest parliament was elected.

The court decision was also a setback for opposition supporters, who had appealed against changes to Kuwait's voting system, which they argue unfairly favors pro-government candidates. Here, the court upheld a previous ruling in which it approved the new voting regulations, which allows each voter to cast a ballot for just one candidate, instead of four, as was the case previously.

Since the December election, opposition politicians had refused to take their seats in parliament in protest against the new voting rules.

Kuwait has been dogged by a series of political spats in recent years, which have stalled economic reforms and infrastructure projects. Next month's election will be the sixth time Kuwaiti voters are to go to the polls since 2006.

The changes to the voting system introduced prior to the December vote sparked some of the biggest protests the Gulf State has ever seen. The turnout was the lowest since Kuwait's first election, held in 1963.

While the country's citizens do vote in free elections, most of the power in the country is held by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah and his family.

The emir is expected to make the July 25 election call final by issuing a decree next week.

pfd/dr (Reuters, dpa, AFP)