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Shiites main losers in Kuwait polls as liberals gain: official

Shiites main losers in Kuwait polls as liberals gain: official

Kuwait City: Kuwait's Shiite minority lost more than half of their seats and liberals made slight gains in the Gulf state's second polls in eight months, official results released early Sunday.

The final results, released by judicial authorities, showed Shiite candidates winning just eight seats in the 50-member parliament.

Shiite candidates had won a record 17 in the previous house elected in December but scrapped in a court ruling last month. Shiites form around 30 per cent of Kuwait's native population of 1.23 million.

The official figures also recorded a significant rise in turnout.

According to figures posted on the information ministry website, voter turnout was 52.5 per cent, compared to December's record low of 40 per cent.

Some groups who had boycotted the previous polls chose to take part this time, in particular Bedouin tribes and liberal groups.

The Liberals, who had no seat in the previous parliament, won at least three this time. Sunni Islamists increased their presence from five to seven seats.

The higher turnover came despite sweltering summer heat in the desert emirate as the mercury hit 45 degrees Celsius; Muslim Ramadan fasting; and calls by the opposition to boycott the ballots.

Only two women were elected compared to three in the previous parliament.

And the new parliament includes as many as 26 new faces, reflecting the desire of Kuwaiti voters for change in the hope of an end to ongoing political crises.

This election is the sixth in the oil-rich emirate over the past seven years.

The opposition had called for a boycott in protest against the government's amendment of a key electoral law, even though it was upheld by the constitutional court.

The opposition says the amendment enabled the government to manipulate the outcome of polls.


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