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Women return to Assembly as Kuwaitis vote for change

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti voters, vying for political stability after years of crises, voted on Thursday for massive change, according to early election results. At least two women candidates – Alia Al-Khaled in the second constituency and Jenan Bushehri in the third constituency – were almost certain of winning seats. The previous National Assembly had no female members. Among the main winners were prominent opposition leader and former three-time speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun, 87, who is tipped to become the next Assembly speaker.

At the time of going to press, at least 14 new faces were in strong position to win seats in the 50-seat National Assembly and as many as 26 members of the dissolved Assembly were likely to be changed, according to the results. The previous Assembly was dissolved by HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in August over non-stop political disputes between the former government and opposition MPs.

In a historic Amiri speech, delivered by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, in June, HH the Amir pledged that the government will not interfere in the polls or in the election of the speaker. He also pledged he will safeguard the democratic system in Kuwait. Most polling centers reported heavy turnout, which was estimated at well over 60 percent.

Former Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem, who served as speaker between 2013 and 2022, did not contest the elections, saying he plans to come back stronger. After casting his vote, Ghanem expressed hope that the next Assembly and government will avoid the mistakes of the past and focus on cooperation to achieve much-needed stability. Ghanem said that if political stability is achieved, it will positively reflect on all people and on the country. Kuwait, which has a sovereign wealth fund worth $700 billion, has been plunged into political turmoil, which intensified in the past two decades. This was the 10th general election since 2003 and in the past three years, as many as five Cabinets had been formed due to political bickering. After the official announcement of the results, the government of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah, hailed as a reformist, will submit its resignation in accordance with the constitution.

Sheikh Ahmad will most likely be asked to form the next Cabinet, which will cooperate with the new Assembly. Former opposition MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa was in a comfortable position to win a seat in the fourth constituency although he is running in the election while in jail after he was convicted by the court of appeals of taking part in outlawed primary elections ahead of the 2020 elections.

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