Kuwait's Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld a controversial election law passed in 2006 that divides the country into five voting constituencies. Tensions ran high in the lead up to the release of the court's decision. The court was cordoned off [Reuters report] prior to issuance of the ruling after thousands protested the election law in front of the parliament on Monday. Opposition leaders alleged [BBC report] that if the law were discarded, the incumbent government would redistrict the country to its own advantage. The Kuwaiti monarchy is facing increasing challenges [AP report] to its power, particularly from opposition factions associated with hardline Islamists.
Last month leaders of a political opposition in Kuwait criticized [JURIST report] the government's efforts to change the country's election law through the Constitutional Court, saying the government is attempting to seize power through the court in violation of the constitution. The government announced in August that they had asked the national Constitutional Court to review the legality of the country's election law. In June the Constitutional Court ruled that this year's election for the new parliament was unconstitutional [JURIST report] and the previous parliament of 2009 should be reinstated, thereby removing the opposition-controlled parliament, and restoring a more government-friendly body. Earlier that month Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] suspended [NYT report] the parliament for a month in response to escalating tensions between the more liberal, western-backed lawmakers and the Islamist-led lawmakers. The tension grew when two cabinet ministers resigned under the pressure of the Islamist-led lawmakers who tried to gain more seats.