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Sun 21 Jul 2013 02:23 PM

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Fifty arrested in Kuwait for vote buying

Multi-million-dollar funds said to be created to buy votes in Gulf state - report

Fifty arrested in Kuwait for vote buying
A general view shows the opening session of Kuwaits parliament in Kuwait City. (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

More than 50 people including former MPs have been arrested in Kuwait, accused of being involved in vote-buying scandals ahead of Saturday’s election.

Most of those arrested were allegedly caught in the act. The vote-buying operations were widespread in various areas of the capital, Kuwait Times reported.

Thirty-six people are arrested at a villa in Al-Jabriya in Kuwait City, where they allegedly ran an elaborate set-up to lure in nationals by offering to purchase their vote. A large amount of money was confiscated from the villa, it was reported.

They were allegedly working on behalf of a new candidate, a well-known businessman. An arrest warrant also was issued for him.

Similar raids were carried out at at least three other locations, including where a vote buying ring was being run by a former MP who was a member of the National Assembly that was sacked in June.

The July 27 election was called after the Constitutional Court ruled the December poll invalid.

Former opposition MP Mussallam Al-Barrak also has claimed two funds worth a total KD18m ($63m) had been created to influence the election results, by buying votes in favour of 25 candidates, who would make up half the Assembly.

They also aimed to influence the election of the next speaker, he alleged.

There are 306 candidates running in the election, including eight women.

Kuwait has the most democratic political system in the Gulf but it has been marred by tensions between the government, which is mostly made up of MPs appointed by the ruling family, and the opposition.

This will be the fifth election in as many years.