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Government opponents have won an overwhelming majority in elections for the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce that are widely seen as a dry run for next October's general elections.

Followers of the outgoing chamber president, Abdel Aziz al-Saqr, won all but one of the 24 board seats, defeating a group of well-known pro-government businessmen, according to the final election results published late Tuesday.

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Mr. Saqr, a leading member of a family which controls the liberal daily al-Qabas, and his supporters represent the traditional merchant class that has been the backbone of political opposition to the ruling al-Sabah family.

Both government and opposition campaigned vigorously ahead of the vote, the first in Kuwait since Western and Arab forces drove Iraqi troops out of the emirate in February last year.

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