Kuwait court orders dissolution of parliament

Kuwait's top court on Sunday ordered the dissolution of parliament and called for fresh elections, officials in the US-allied Gulf Arab said.

The Constitutional Court made its ruling after throwing out an opposition challenge to changes to the electoral system decreed by the emir, hereditary ruler of the oil-exporting country, head judge Youssef al-Mutawa told reporters.

The case has international importance because political stability in Kuwait, owner of more than six percent of global oil reserves, has traditionally depended on cooperation between the government and the elected parliament, the oldest and most powerful legislature in the Gulf Arab states.

Kuwait sits in a strategic position between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and across the Gulf from Iran.

The opposition case had questioned the constitutionality of a change to the voting system ordered by the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah.

Mutawa said the hearing had decided not to make a ruling on the challenge, in effect leaving the emir's decree unchanged.

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