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Kuwait: Government under pressure but active in the region
Politics: Governed by the Al-Sabah family since the 18th century, Kuwait gained independence from Britain in 1961, with a constitution confirming the hereditary monarchy but giving significant powers to an independent judiciary and 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). The downside of the Gulf’s most participatory politics has been constant friction between parliament and the appointed government, often leading to paralysis of the state.
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