4 Kuwaiti women win Parliament seats
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwaitis elected female candidates to Parliament for the first time and rejected several Islamic fundamentalist candidates in a weekend vote that many hoped would stabilize the country's rocky political scene.
Women gained the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed in two previous elections to win seats in the 50-member Parliament. Four women were elected in Saturday's vote, according to official results read yesterday by judges on state-owned television.
Unlike most of its Middle East neighbors, Kuwait has an elected Parliament that wields considerable power. Its ruling family, however, still chooses the Cabinet and holds ultimate power.
Radical religious politicians have fought against extending political rights to women. They also have pushed for full implementation of Islamic law, or Sharia, in the oil-rich US ally.
"This is a message that the Kuwaiti society has started to move away from such movements that are based on hatred," said political commentator Sami al-Nisf. In all, 21 new members were voted into Parliament, Nisf said.
Many voters also said they were tired of years of political upheaval sparked by Parliament's frequent attacks on Cabinet members, which often lead to attempts to impeach ministers.