Shiites headed for big gains in Kuwaiti polls

Kuwait's Shiite minority candidates appeared Saturday set to win around 15 seats of the 50-member parliament in the polls boycotted by the Sunni-dominated opposition, their biggest ever tally.

Early results suggested Shiite candidates winning seats in all of the five constituencies, including as many as eight of the 10 seats in the first district, with half of its population being Shiites.

Kuwaiti Shiites, who form around 30 percent of Kuwait's native population of 1.2 million, held seven seats in the previous scrapped parliament and nine MPs in the 2009 assembly.

All five candidates fielded by the National Islamic Alliance, the largest Shiite political group, won their seats, also the group's biggest win.

Shiites have defied calls by the Kuwaiti opposition to boycott the election and voted in large numbers.

Official results of the Kuwaiti election are expected within hours.

The opposition said that voter turnout was only 26.7 percent, the lowest turnout at any Kuwaiti parliamentary elections.

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