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Kuwait: Government under pressure as parliament reasserts itself

Politics: Kuwait has been governed by the Al-Sabah family since the 18th century. It gained independence from Britain in 1961, when a new constitution confirmed the hereditary monarchy, but gave significant powers to an independent judiciary and an elected assembly. The emir – Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (born in June 1929) since 2006 – retains final say. Parties are banned, but active associations and factions create opposition blocs in the 50-member Majlis Al-Umma (National Assembly).

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