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Islamists lose in Kuwait vote, women triumph

world Updated: May 17, 2009 12:00 IST

AFP
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Sunni Islamists lost ground in Kuwait's general election but women made history by bagging four seats, their first ever in the 50-member parliament, according to results released on Sunday.

Official results from the five electoral districts showed that the two mainstream Sunni Islamic groups were dealt a heavy blow by losing most of their seats they held in the outgoing parliament.

The hardline Islamic Salafi Alliance won two seats out of four it held while the Islamic Constitutional Movement, the political arm of Muslim Brotherhood, won a single seat down from three it had in the dissolved house.

Overall, the strength of Sunni Muslim groups and their supporters was reduced to just 11 seats out of 21 they won in the previous polls in 2008. And instead of winning first positions like they did last year, several of them came in last places. Liberals improved their tally by one seat to eight.

Four women candidates made history by winning the first seats in Kuwaiti parliament, with one of them coming on top of the 10 winners from her district.

The Shiite Muslim minority emerged big winners, almost doubling their strength from five seats to as many as nine. Five of them are Islamist Shiites.

The nationalist Popular Action Bloc led by veteran opposition figure Ahmad al-Saadun took three seats, down one. There are 21 new faces in the parliament, mostly from tribal areas. Major tribes, which account for half of the population, won 25 seats, a few of them pro-Islamists.

The early elections were called after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahamd al-Sabah dissolved parliament in March for the second time in a year following a standoff between MPs and parliament.

Kuwait says it sits on 10 percent of global oil reserves and pumps around 2.2 million barrels per day. It has a native population of 1.1 million and some 2.35 million foreign residents.