KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Kuwait's Constitutional Court on Sunday scrapped last December's parliamentary election, which was boycotted by the opposition, but approved the controversial electoral law that sparked the boycott.
The court, whose rulings are final, called for a fresh election to replace the current loyalist-dominated Parliament, in the verdict read out by presiding judge Yousef al-Mutawah.
Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, decreed the controversial amendment to the electoral law last October, intensifying a bitter dispute that had engulfed the emirate since 2006, sparking street protests, some of which turned violent.
The electoral law passed in 2006 allows each eligible voter to choose a maximum of four candidates. The amendment reduced the number to just one.
Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition groups had charged that the emir's decree was unconstitutional and that it had enabled the government to manipulate election results and subsequent legislation.
Opposition members had warned of serious consequences if the court upheld the decree, saying it would effectively undermine Kuwait's parliamentary system.
The emir had vowed to accept the court's verdict, whatever it might be.
Kuwait was long looked upon by neighbouring Gulf states as a beacon of democracy, with its vibrant Parliament and freedom of speech.
But the image has been tarnished by years of non-stop wrangling since the electoral law was changed in 2006.
The 50-seat Parliament elected in December's now-scrapped vote was entirely composed of MPs loyal to the government, which is appointed by the emir, as a result of the opposition boycott.