Stage set for snap elec­tions after As­sem­bly dis­solved

Amir cites ‘se­cu­rity chal­lenges’ in dis­so­lu­tion de­cree

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By B Iz­zak

HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Sabah yes­ter­day is­sued a de­cree dis­solv­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly, set­ting the stage for fresh elec­tions within two months, cit­ing the es­ca­la­tion of re­gional con­flicts and the need to go back to the peo­ple to choose new rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The sur­pris­ing de­ci­sion was is­sued hours after As­sem­bly Speaker Mar­zouq Al-Ghanem said he in­formed the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship that the coun­try was pass­ing through a del­i­cate phase that needed a new gov­ern­ment and go­ing back to the bal­lot boxes.

The de­cree to dis­solve the As­sem­bly, which has only sev­eral months left of its four-year term, was is­sued fol­low­ing an emer­gency meet­ing of the Cab­i­net, which rec­om­mended to the Amir to dis­solve the As­sem­bly. The de­cree said that due to the se­ri­ous se­cu­rity chal­lenges from re­gional con­flicts, it was nec­es­sary to go back to the peo­ple to al­low them to elect their rep­re­sen­ta­tives to con­trib­ute to con­fronting those chal­lenges.

The dis­so­lu­tion was based on ar­ti­cle 107 of the con­sti­tu­tion, which stip­u­lates that new elec­tions must be held within two months. No date was how­ever set for the fresh polls. A new de­cree will be is­sued within the next few days to set the date. Par­lia­men­tary sources ex­pected the new elec­tion to be held at a closer date, around the mid­dle of Novem­ber, rather than to­wards the end of the two-month pe­riod. The dis­so­lu­tion, the sev­enth since 2006, also came after law­mak­ers last week filed three re­quests to grill the fi­nance and the jus­tice min­is­ters over a hike in petrol prices and al­leged

fi­nan­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive vi­o­la­tions. Other law­mak­ers had vowed to file more grillings against a num­ber of other min­is­ters, which in­ten­si­fied po­lit­i­cal ten­sion. The de­ci­sion to raise petrol prices sub­jected law­mak­ers to tremen­dous pop­u­lar anger that en­dan­gered MPs los­ing their cred­i­bil­ity in the eyes of vot­ers in any fu­ture elec­tion.

After the elec­tion date is set, the in­te­rior min­istry will in­vite can­di­dates to reg­is­ter for the polls. After yes­ter­day’s dis­so­lu­tion, the only as­sem­blies that com­pleted their full four-year terms since 1985 were the ones elected in 1992 and 1999. All the rest were dis­solved pre­ma­turely ei­ther by HH the Amir or the con­sti­tu­tional court.

A ma­jor­ity of the op­po­si­tion groups that boy­cotted the last elec­tion after the gov­ern­ment changed the vot­ing sys­tem ap­pear to be set to take part in the next polls, with some pre­dict­ing a good show for them. Op­po­si­tion ac­tivists who have been very crit­i­cal of the As­sem­bly since it was elected in July 2013, saw the rea­sons be­hind the dis­so­lu­tion as un­con­vinc­ing. Some said that the agree­ment be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the speaker to hold snap polls was to pre­vent jailed op­po­si­tion leader and for­mer MP Musal­lam Al-Bar­rak from run­ning in the elec­tion. Bar­rak is serv­ing a two-year jail term for in­sult­ing HH the Amir and is due to com­plete his jail term in April next year. The ac­tivists said that even the mere pres­ence of Bar­rak out­side jail is threat­en­ing to the gov­ern­ment and mem­bers of the As­sem­bly.

The ac­tivists said on Twit­ter that the main achieve­ments of the As­sem­bly were soar­ing prices, hik­ing petrol prices, fail­ure of devel­op­ment, rais­ing elec­tric­ity charges and other neg­a­tive is­sues. Ac­tivist and univer­sity pro­fes­sor Ah­mad Al-Thayedi said the dis­so­lu­tion is ev­i­dence that “Kuwait is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a real po­lit­i­cal dilemma and the solution should be through dia­logue and re­form­ing the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and not through dis­solv­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly”.

MP Saleh Ashour con­grat­u­lated the peo­ple for the dis­so­lu­tion and hoped that the vot­ers will elect law­mak­ers who will achieve their as­pi­ra­tions. A ma­jor­ity of the out­go­ing law­mak­ers ap­pear to be pre­pared to seek re­elec­tion, with only a few of them opt­ing out. The three law­mak­ers who are Cab­i­net min­is­ters - Yaqoub Al-Sane, Ali Al-Omair and Issa Al-Kan­dari said they will re­sign from the Cab­i­net to be able to con­test the elec­tions.

The new vot­ing sys­tem in­tro­duced in Dec 2012 al­lows each voter to elect only one can­di­date. Each of the five elec­toral dis­tricts elects 10 law­mak­ers to make up the 50-elected mem­bers of the As­sem­bly.

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (left) re­ceives a de­cree to dis­solve the Na­tional As­sem­bly from HH the Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Ha­mad Al-Sabah yes­ter­day. — Amiri Di­wan

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