Kuwaitis start voting as opposition boycotts

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 01, 2012 (AFP) -Kuwaitis began casting ballots on Saturday to elect the second parliament in 10 months amid a boycott by the opposition in protest against the amendment of the electoral law.
At the polling center in Salwa, 15 km (10 miles) south of the capital Kuwait City, only a few voters showed up among more than 4,600 eligible voters registered at the center.
"I am voting because I care for my country. I am against the boycott calls," Mahmud Abedin told AFP after casting his vote.
"Everything is made available to us by the government and the emir; good housing services, good salaries and many almost free public services, so why should we boycott," the 47-year-old Abedin, a public sector employee, said.
On the eve of the election, the fifth since mid-2006, tens of thousands of opposition supporters staged a massive demonstration on Friday to urge voters to shun the ballot.
The opposition has staged several protests and gatherings against the government for unilaterally amending the electoral law, saying the move amounted to a coup against the constitution.
None of the opposition figures is among the 306 hopefuls, including 13 women, contesting the 50 seats, and so the next parliament is expected to be totally pro-government.
The electorate is voting at around 100 polling stations in schools, with separate centres for men and women in line with the law.
Kuwait has a population of 3.8 million as of mid-2012, but 69 percent of those are foreigners and only 422,000 people are eligible to vote from among Kuwaitis who number 1.2 million.
The voting age is 21 and servicemen in the police and army are banned from taking part in the ballot. Women voters make up 54 percent of the electorate.
Polling opened at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) and closes 12 hours later, with the first results expected after midnight (2100 GMT) as ballot papers in Kuwait are still counted manually.

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