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Demokrasi di Kuwait: 4 Wanita Terpilih****

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Demokrasi di Kuwait: 4 Wanita Terpilih****

Postby Adadeh » Wed May 27, 2009 7:36 am

Bagaimana George Bush Mengalahkan para Islamis di Kuwait: Kemenangan Kaum Wanita di Pemilu Kuwait
oleh: Amir Taheri

Former President George W. Bush’s policy of en couraging Middle East democratization has just produced spectacular results in the Kuwaiti general election.

In a major victory for the secular reformists over the Islamists, women — four of them — were elected to the 50-seat national parliament for the first time. The Islamists’ share of Sunday’s vote dropped almost 30 percent from the last general election, held just more than a year ago. The radical Muslim Brotherhood lost three of its four seats, while the hard-line Salafis dropped to two from four.

The election of women represents a political earthquake in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a grouping of six oil-rich traditional Arab monarchies. Kuwait has had a parliament on and off since gaining independence in 1960, but the other GCC members entered the era of electoral politics largely due to pressure from the Bush administration. US pressure also played a crucial part in persuading Kuwait’s leaders to enfranchise women for the first time in 2005.

The four female parliamentarians all represent the emirate’s educated middle classes. The youngest, Aseel Al-Awadhi, is a US-educated philosophy professor. The best known, Rola Dashti, also a teacher, has campaigned for human rights. for years. The third, Dr. Maasoumeh Mubarak, is the first Kuwaiti woman to have served as a Cabinet minister (she was health minister), and the fourth, Salwa al-Jassar, is a leading campaigner for women’s rights. All managed to defeat prominent Islamists and tribal figures in their respective constituencies.

This was the second time Kuwaiti women were allowed to vote in a general election. The first time, their share of the vote was estimated at around 11 percent; this time it was almost 40 percent. The women won their seats largely because a majority of male voters decided to cast ballots for them.

“This was a triumph both for women and for Kuwaiti democracy,” Al-Awadhi says. “Many voters were ready to go beyond the man-woman divide and vote for the candidates they thought most fitted for the job.”

The other big winner was moderate Shiites, who represent a quarter of Kuwait’s population. They were strengthened by the coming to power of moderate Shiite parties in neighboring Iraq.

The increase in voter turnout, to more than 70 percent, refuted any claim that democratization has little support in the Middle East.

In fact, the Kuwaiti election is the third in a year to produce a resounding defeat for Islamists. Last year, Pakistani voters reduced the Islamists’ vote share to three percent from 11 percent. Then, Iraqi voters all but wiped out Islamists in crucial local elections.

The next battleground is Lebanon, where a general election is scheduled for June 7. A coalition of Islamists and Christian Maronites, headed by the Iranian-led Hezbollah, aims to win control of the government in Beirut. It’s opposed by a coalition of pro-Western parties representing Muslims, Christians and Druze communities that support the current government led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

On June 12, the Islamic Republic of Iran will hold its own presidential election, although only candidates endorsed by the regime are allowed to stand. In August, it’s Afghanistan’s turn to choose a president. There, too, the fight is between pro-Western modernizers and Iran-backed Islamists.

The biggest battle will come early next year, when Iraq holds its general election.

It’s evident that the greater Middle East is witnessing a major struggle between forces of reform and of reaction. While President Obama appears to have abandoned Bush’s push for regional democratization, America could play a crucial role by continuing to support the forces fighting for it.

Obama would do well to take a closer look at the Kuwaiti election before he goes to Egypt, where he’s expected to announce a return to America’s traditional policy of supporting the Middle East status quo.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Amir Taheri writes for the New York Post. His latest book, The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution, is due out next month. Feedback editorialdirector@familysecuritymatters.org.
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Re: Demokrasi di Kuwait: 4 Wanita Terpilih****

Postby Adadeh » Wed May 27, 2009 7:42 am

Prof. Aseel Al-Awadhi

Rola Dashti

Dr. Masouma al-Mubarak

Salwa al-Jassar

Woman elected in Kuwait says gender in politics is 'history'

(CNN) -- As one of the first four female lawmakers ever elected to Kuwait's parliament, Aseel al-Awadhi knows she has a tough road ahead in the conservative Gulf state's male-dominated legislature.

Rola Dashti is one of four women who won parliamentary seats in the recent elections in Kuwait.

Still, victory is sweet.

"Even before the results, people were piling up to congratulate me either from my own district or from other districts," al-Awadhi, a university instructor, told CNN Sunday.

"I think that shows you the tremendous amount of support for women's role in politics," she said. "And I think today I can confidently say that [the] gender issue is history in Kuwait -- I mean, regarding women's role in politics."

Men have filled the seats of Kuwait's parliament for nearly five decades, and it was only four years ago that the country granted women the right to vote and run for office. Watch new lawmaker discuss historic win »

But, despite failed attempts in the past two elections, four women -- al-Awadhi, Rola Dashti, Salwa al-Jassar and Masouma al-Mubarak -- won parliamentary seats in Saturday's general elections.

"The Kuwaiti women have been able to notch up this great victory at a crucial time and set a precedent in the history of Arabian Gulf parliaments," Mohammad Al-Feili, a constitutional law professor at Kuwait University, told the official Kuwait News Agency.

Two-hundred-and-ten candidates ran for 50 seats in the general election; 16 were women.

Al-Awadhi said the elections proved Kuwaitis want political change.

"Yes, they do, absolutely," she said. "Yes, I mean, this is my second time running for election. I ran last time ... and yes, people were talking about change. But this time, I realized that people are determined -- that they want to achieve change, they want to see change happen."

The elections were called after the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, dissolved parliament, which is made up mostly of opposition politicians. He said he was dissolving parliament to put an end to a crisis that had paralyzed decision-making.

The parliament had been locked in a feud with the government, which it accuses of corruption and abuse of power. It has been pressuring the government for the right to question ministers on deals.

"We don't mean changing the ruling system -- we mean change within the parliament," al-Awadhi told CNN. "Because the parliament has been dominated by certain political groups for years and years. ... Their representation is intense, and their agenda also has been dominating the parliament agenda.

"So I think, when people speak about change, they need change and shifting the attention towards people's needs and desires. And most of the parliament members during the last several years were not attending to people's needs and desires.

The parliament is made up of elected lawmakers, but ministers are appointed.

The al-Sabah family has run Kuwait since it came into existence more than two centuries ago.
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