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Kuwait liberals want parties legalised

Liberal groups in Kuwait call for legalisation of political parties as prelude to adoption of full parliamentary system

AFP , Wednesday 4 Jul 2012
Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. (Photo: Reuters)

Two Kuwaiti liberal groups called on Wednesday for key reforms including legalising political parties and establishing an electoral commission as a prelude to adopting a full parliamentary system.

The Kuwait Democratic Forum and National Democratic Alliance, which have six MPs in the 50-member parliament, said such reforms are essential to resolve lingering political disputes in the oil-rich Gulf state.

Despite having been the first Gulf monarchy to introduce elections 50 years ago, Kuwait does not have an electoral commission, and the interior and justice ministries manage the polls.

The two groups also called for passing legislation to guarantee more independence for the judiciary and for establishing an anti-corruption authority.

The calls come two weeks after opposition Islamist and conservative groups, which controlled a majority in a parliament that was scrapped by a court verdict, demanded sweeping constitutional reforms in the emirate.

The opposition called for a full parliamentary system with an elected government, which would effectively break the decades-old monopoly of the Al-Sabah ruling family on key ministerial positions.

Certain quarters of the opposition and youth activists have even demanded transforming Kuwait into a constitutional monarchy but keeping the ruling family at the helm.

The new political crisis unfolded on June 20 after the constitutional court, whose rulings are final, declared February's legislative election won by the opposition illegal and reinstated the previous pro-government parliament.

As a result, the government headed by Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah submitted its resignation last week and is expected to be asked to form the new government.

The new cabinet is expected to recommend to Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to dissolve the reinstated parliament and call for fresh elections, the fifth in just over six years.

Kuwait, OPEC's fourth-largest producer, has been hit by continued political crises since 2006.

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