x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Women win in Kuwait elections

Four years after being given the right to vote and run for office, Kuwaiti women have been elected to parliament for the first time.

KUWAIT // Women won four seats in Kuwait's parliament in yesterday's election, the first to do so in the state's history in what will be a blow to the Islamists who have long dominated the assembly. Sixteen women were among 210 candidates for the 50-seat assembly, whose new composition was announced today. Kuwaiti women were first given the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed to win any seats in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Some 384,790 Kuwaitis, over half of them women, were eligible to vote but turnout was low with voters worried that the poll would do little to end a long-running stand-off between parliament and government that has delayed economic reforms. Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, called the election after dissolving parliament two months ago to end the crisis and push through a US$5 billion economic stimulus package.

The official KUNA news agency said liberal candidates Aseel Awadhi and Rola Dashti came second and seventh in the third constituency, giving them both seats in the house. Former health minister Massouma al-Mubarak, who became the first Kuwaiti woman minister in 2005, and another female candidate, Salwa al-Jassar, also secured seats in parliament. Analysts predicted before the polls that Islamists would lose some ground, boosting the hopes of liberals and women, but said the swing might be enough to end the deadlock.

"Islamists could lose some seats but it won't be enough to change the general mood in parliament," political analyst Shafiq al-Ghabra said. "The ball will be in the government's court again to move forward with development." * Reuters