- U.S. Navy to start giving gay couples marriage benefits in Japan
- Sen. Harry Reid goes to hospital as a precaution
- Fla.’s Trey Radel exits rehab, ‘excited’ to resume congressional role
- U.S. nuclear general boozed it up, chased ‘hot women’ in Russia: report
- 45 Calif. students at one school test positive for tuberculosis exposure
- Rob Ford on women: Give them cash ‘and they are happy’
- Ku Klux Klan group holds recruitment meeting in Maryland
- Airport assassination: Mayor, 3 others killed at Manila airport
- Tea party-type lawmakers take mysterious, off-books trip to Mideast
- North Korea warns South: We’ll attack ‘without warning’
Voting begins in Kuwait; opposition groups boycott
Question of the Day
KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Security forces watched over polling stations Saturday as Kuwait held parliamentary elections that underscored the deepening divide between the ruling establishment and opposition groups staging a widespread boycott of the voting.
The election is certain to bring a pro-government parliament after months of political upheavals in the strategic Gulf nation, a major oil producer and hub for U.S. ground forces as part of the Pentagon’s military counterweight to Iran.
But the election snub now leaves a broad range of opposition factions — ranging from hardline Islamists to Western-leaning liberals — outside the political process and raises the risks they could increasingly take their grievances to the streets.
“I’m certain that the boycott will have an effect on the turnout,” said Information Minister Mohammad al-Abdullah Al Sabah, a member of the ruling family.
He appealed, however, for the opposition to confine their objections within the country’s “legal framework.”
The anti-government groups have bitterly denounced a decree in October by Kuwait’s emir to end an unusual balloting system that allowed four choices per voter.
Critics claim the new one-vote-per-person rule will make it easier for state authorities to potentially influence the outcome. They also say the emir overstepped his authority by changing the voting rules without public debate.
On the eve of the election, more than 15,000 people joined a peaceful pro-boycott march in the first rally permitted by authorities since a ruling last month banning gatherings of more than 20 people.
Security forces were deployed around polling stations, but there were no immediate indications of unrest or boycott supporters trying to disrupt the voting. Some opposition groups predict turnout could be well below 50 percent.
Kuwait has the Gulf’s most political powerfully parliament, which was in the hands of Islamists and their allies earlier this year before the courts dissolved it over a legal challenge by the ruling establishment over electoral districts.
The country also has some of the widest political and media freedoms among the Gulf Arab states, but key government posts and policies remain under the control of the ruling family.
Complaints against authorities include increasing efforts to muzzle free speech and failure to have Kuwait’s economy and growth keep pace with other dynamic Gulf centers such as Qatar’s capital Doha and the United Arab Emirates’ hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Last month, four people were arrested on charges of insulting Kuwait’s emir in Twitter posts.
Yet Islamists and their backers also worry many Kuwaitis for open support of stricter Muslim codes such as censoring artists and imposing death sentences for those convicted of denigrating Islam.
A 29-year-old voter, Ali Boushehri, said he was frustrated with both sides.
“I hold the government accountable for many of our shortcomings in Kuwait, and that is why I am voting,” he said. “I don’t agree with the opposition. Boycotting is not a good thing to do … I want to vote because I believe in democracy.”
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Huge backlash mounts over suspension of 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Deportations under Obama plunged to just 1 percent last year
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Sebelius adds yet another exemption for Obamacare
- Special ops vets slam military benefit cuts
- EDITORIAL: Red faces at the White House
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- PRUDEN: 'Tis the season for apologies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow