Kuwait sets elections for December 1 but opposition will boycott

KUWAIT Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:43pm EDT

Kuwait MP Khalid Al Sulan al-Issa attends a meeting of opposition members of parliament in Kuwait October 20, 2012. Kuwait's main opposition will boycott December 1 parliamentary elections over changes to voting rules, an opposition politician said on Saturday. REUTERS/Stephanie Mcgehee

Kuwait MP Khalid Al Sulan al-Issa attends a meeting of opposition members of parliament in Kuwait October 20, 2012. Kuwait's main opposition will boycott December 1 parliamentary elections over changes to voting rules, an opposition politician said on Saturday.

Credit: Reuters/Stephanie Mcgehee

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KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's main opposition said it would boycott parliamentary elections set for December 1. after the cabinet announced the poll date and changes to the voting system on Saturday.

The opposition, which holds a parliamentary majority, described changes to the electoral law as a "coup against the constitution" and called for a protest march on Sunday, said Ahmed al-Dayen, an opposition politician.

Kuwait's political system has been hit by months of turmoil stemming from a tussle between the government, which is controlled by the ruling family, and the parliament, which is dominated by Islamists and tribal figures.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Kuwait's emir, had dissolved parliament on October 7, meaning that an election had to take place by mid-December.

It was the sixth dissolution of parliament since early 2006 in the oil producing state, an ally of the United States.

The cabinet ordered a change to electoral procedures to allow voters to chose only one candidate in an electoral district, a statement on state media said. Voters were previously allowed to cast ballots for four candidates.

The last parliamentary elections were held in February.

"The cabinet ... approved the ordering of a call to voters to elect members of the parliament on December 1, 2012," the government said in a statement carried by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) after an extraordinary meeting.

(Reporting By Ahmed Hagagy, writing by Angus McDowall, editing by Sami Aboudi)

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