Call for political reform in Kuwait

An influential liberal daily in Kuwait has called for legalising political parties on the way to establishing a 'true constitutional' monarchy in in the country.

    Political parties are banned but the country has some groupings and parliamentary blocs

    The call comes as Kuwait, the first Gulf Arab country to have an elected parliament four decades ago, is bracing for key changes in its electoral system in an attempt to eliminate corruption and vote-buying practices.

    Al Rai Al Aam daily said in an editorial by Jasim Boodai that ''Kuwait needs a (new) political system that allows the establishment of political parties'' which should stay away from sectarianism and regionalism.

    "This would eventually help establish a true constitutional emirate that allows the party that wins parliamentary majority to run the executive authority," said Boodai, the newspaper's editor. 

    Kuwait has free direct elections for the 50-member parliament, but the main executive posts are held by members of the ruling al-Sabah family which has been in power for more than two centuries. 

    "What Kuwait needs after the ousting of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is moving on to a new political era that takes into account past experience" 

    Al Rai Al Aam daily

    Besides the amir, crown prince and the premier, the key cabinet posts of foreign, interior, defence and energy, in addition to communications, are all held by al-Sabahs, who do not take part in the polls. 

    Lawmakers have put forward several bills calling to reduce the number of constituencies from the current 25 to either 10 or five, a step that would increase the number of voters in a single constituency. 

    Other bills would grant servicemen the right to vote and reduce the voting age from 21 to 18.

    The government has promised to present a bill for women's political rights to this parliament which began its four-year term last July. 

    The daily, however, insists that these reforms are merely
    ''cosmetic surgery'' and what Kuwait needs after the ousting of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is "moving on to a new political era," that takes into account past experience. 

    Political parties are banned in Kuwait, but the country has at
    least six political groupings in addition to a number of parliamentary blocs which meet on mostly non-political agendas.



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