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Kuwait City, Jun 5: Thirty-two women were among 402 hopefuls who signed to stand in the June 29 Kuwaiti general elections at the close of candidate registration on Saturday.

The women, who are voting and running in parliamentary elections for the first time in the emirate, are due to kick off their election campaigns on Sunday.

The candidates have until four days before the election date to withdraw from the race and observers are expecting more than 100 to pull out.

Candidates often withdraw if they deem their chances of election to be poor or if they strike alliances with other candidates, agreeing to channel the votes they would have received to them in exchange for tradeoffs.

The elections were called after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah dissolved parliament on May 21 following a bitter dispute between the government and opposition MPs over electoral reform.

Opposition MPs have accused the government of deliberately blocking efforts to stamp out vote-buying by reducing the number of constituencies.

Of the 50 members in the dissolved parliament, 47 are bidding to retain their seats, including 28 of the 29 opposition MPs who pledged to back a request, filed by three of them, to quiz Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah.

Several Islamist and liberal groupings are contesting the election which is being branded by reformists as a “true battle between corruption and reform.”

But the Islamist Ummah Party, launched last year as the first political party in an Arab Gulf state, said on Wednesday it would boycott the polls because of fraud concerns.

The number of eligible voters is 340,000, of whom 195,000, or 57%, are women. Kuwait has a native population of 1mn besides 2mn foreigners. 


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