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Kuwait dissolves parliament, calls for new elections

Kuwait's Constitutional Court [JURIST news archive] on Sunday dissolved the nation's 50-member parliament due to flaws in election procedures. In doing so, the court invalidated the results of the December election, deeming them unconstitutional. The court also upheld [BBC news report] a controversial electoral law imposing a "one person, one vote" regulation on Kuwaitis, which overrode a previous regulation that allowed each individual to vote for multiple candidates. While the government states that this new system will prevent political blocs and put the country in line with many other nations around the world, opposition groups claim that the rule was implemented to weaken their voices. Kuwait is expected to set a new election date soon.

Kuwait's parliament and election laws have both been sources of controversy over recent years. In December, opposition groups boycotted [BBC news report] the parliamentary elections in protest of the electoral laws. In September the Constitutional Court upheld a controversial election law [JURIST report] passed in 2006 that divides the country into five voting constituencies. In August 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. Also in August the government announced that they had asked the national Constitutional Court to review the legality of the country's election law. In June 2012 the Constitutional Court ruled that the 2012 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.

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