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Kuwait's ruler calls for cooperation to end disputes

In opening session of Kuwait's new parliament, emir urges political parties to set aside differences and work together to face political, economic challenges

AFP , Wednesday 15 Feb 2012
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Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Wednesday inaugurated the new opposition-dominated parliament by calling on MPs and the government to cooperate, end disputes and fend off internal and external dangers.

"Our country is facing a host of internal challenges and external dangers that are hampering progress... and stalling development," Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah told the new parliament elected on 2 February in snap polls.

We must show "unity and cooperation to face these dangers and its evils," said the emir, referring to ongoing turmoil in several Arab countries and a series of internal political crises which rocked the oil-rich Gulf state.

"Fending off these dangers should top your list of priorities... and preserving national unity and fighting dissent... should be your most important duty," Sheikh Sabah told MPs.

The elections, the fourth in less than six years, were held following youth-led street protests that forced former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a nephew of the emir, to quit in November.

The emir later dissolved the previous parliament.

Recognising the growing power of youth, the emir said he had called for a national conference to focus on the problems and explore solutions to the challenges facing young people.

Youth groups and activists played an important role in the elections, campaigning for reformist candidates.

The Islamist-led opposition scored a resounding victory, controlling a majority in the 50-member house but the new line-up announced Tuesday included only one member of the opposition and no Islamists.

The new cabinet, led by Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, a senior member of the Al-Sabah ruling family, also excluded women for the first time since 2005.

Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises that led to the resignation of eight governments and dissolving parliament on four occasions since 2006.

Kuwait, which says it sits on 10 per cent of global crude reserves, pumps about 3.0 million barrels of oil daily. It has a population of 1.17 million native Kuwaitis and 2.4 million foreign residents.

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