Kuwait emir sets parliamentary election for February 2

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2011 8:20 AM
Kuwait emir sets parliamentary election for February 2

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Sunday decreed that an early parliamentary election would take place on February 2, the privately-owned al-Rai television reported.

The decision comes nearly two weeks after the emir dissolved parliament following the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah last month in one of the deepest political crises in the oil-exporting state.

At the time, the emir had set no date for an election, which under the constitution must be held within two months from the date parliament is dissolved.

The OPEC member and U.S. ally has been locked in a long-running political battle between the government, dominated by the ruling al Sabah family, and the 50-member elected parliament.

Oil wealth and a generous welfare state have helped Kuwait to escape the kind of uprisings that have ousted heads of state in other Arab countries this year.

But the Gulf Arab state caught a whiff of unrest when opposition lawmakers and protesters stormed parliament last month to demand the resignation of Sheikh Nasser, amid allegations of mismanagement and corruption, which he denies.

The raid on parliament came after the cabinet blocked an opposition request to question the prime minister. The opposition said the cabinet's move was unconstitutional.

The crisis forced Sheikh Nasser and his cabinet to step down, and the emir has since named outgoing Defence Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, another member of the ruling family, as the new prime minister.

The emir last week swore in a new government consisting mainly of ministers from the previous administration of Sheikh Nasser, to prepare for the election.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Sophie Hares and Alistair Lyon)