Kuwaitis head to the polls on Saturday to elect a new parliament in the oil-rich Gulf country, in a vote overshadowed by the global pandemic and a fall in crude prices.
The election is Kuwait’s first under its new ruler Nawaf al-Ahmad Al Sabah, who took office in September, succeeding his half-brother, the late emir Sabah.
Some 326 candidates, including 29 women, are standing for election to the 50-member parliament, known as the National Assembly, according to a final tally reported by Kuwaiti media.
All contenders are running as individuals because political parties are banned in Kuwait, a U.S. ally.
Like other oil producers, Kuwait’s finances have suffered due to a fall in prices for crude, the main source of income for the small Arab country.
Kuwait, a hub for migrant workers, has also felt the brunt of restrictions prompted by the pandemic.
Since August, Kuwait has banned flights from 34 countries due to stem the spread of coronavirus.
More than 567,000 citizens in Kuwait – home to 1.4 million people – are eligible to vote at polling stations, which will be open for 12 hours from 8 am (0500 GMT).
Official results are expected on Sunday.
Kuwait was the first country in the Gulf region to establish an elected parliament in 1963.
While Kuwait holds broadly free parliamentary elections, power effectively remains in the hands of the ruling al-Sabah family and the emir who appoints the government. (dpa/NAN)