Tribal candidates sweep Kuwait polls | News | Al Jazeera

Tribal candidates sweep Kuwait polls

Candidates backed by tribes have swept Kuwait's municipal council elections, the last all-male polls in the oil-rich Gulf Arab state, official results show.

    Kuwaitis voted to elect 10 of the 16-seat civic body

    Tribal candidates won six of the 10 seats, while two seats were claimed by members backed by Sunni and Shia Islamists. The last two seats were won by liberal-leaning businessmen.
    Official figures show that turnout was around 50% against 61% in the previous elections held in 1999.
    The elections were held under tight security measures, with Interior Ministry forces mobilised.
    This was the last elections in which women did not vote after parliament on 16 May voted to grant women full political rights. 

    Civic body
    Voters elected 10 members of the 16-seat civic body, while the remaining six members are appointed by the ruler of the country on government recommendation. 

    Kuwaiti women will have the right
    to vote in elections from 2007  

    Local media reported that the government intends to appoint up to three women as members in the municipal council.
    Fifty-four candidates contested the polls, many of them backed by political groups and tribes. There are 130,000 eligible voters in Kuwait, which has a native population of 956,000.
    This was the first election since 1999 for the council, which serves four-year terms. Polls were suspended for two years until parliament approved a new law for the municipality.
    Enfranchised Kuwaiti women will make their election debut in the 2007 legislative elections and will vote in the next municipal polls in 2009. 

    Voting hailed
    "This is an historic day. It is the last time that only half the society will make decisions for the country," said Rula Dashti, chairwoman of Kuwait Economic Society.
    Liberal-leaning Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has repeatedly said after the 16 May vote in parliament that he plans to name a woman minister in his 16-member cabinet.
    Kuwait has a single municipal council whose powers are restricted to civic planning, monitoring some public services and restaurants, roads and civil construction.
    Kuwait became the first Gulf Arab state to have a constitution and parliamentary democracy in 1962, but women were barred from participating in political life, although they have taken part in trade and student union elections.
    Kuwait sits on 10% of proven global oil reserves and is pumping at almost full capacity of 2.7 million barrels per day.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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