Former opposition MPs to likely end polls boycott
Registration of candidates starts today
KUWAIT: The stage looks set for a stiff election battle after many leading opposition figures and former lawmakers said they plan to end a four-year boycott of parliamentary polls and contest elections for the 50-seat National Assembly. Leading former Islamist MPs Ahmad Baqer, Fahd Al-Khanna and Adel Al-Damkhi have already said they will run in the election.
Earlier, the interior ministry announced that registration of candidates for the Assembly elections will start from today for 10 days, in accordance with the election law. The announcement came after the Amiri decree setting Nov 26 as the date for the snap elections was published in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm. Registration will end on Oct 28, after which withdrawal of candidates will continue until four days before election day.
The interior ministry said all arrangements have been taken at the election department in Shuwaikh to receive the candidates. Under Kuwaiti law, candidates must be Kuwaiti by birth, at least 30 years of age and have not been convicted of a felony, unless they have been rehabilitated. Acting on a recommendation by the Cabinet, HH the Amir dissolved the Assembly on Sunday citing grave regional security threats and conflicts. It was the seventh dissolution of the Assembly since 2006.
Former Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei said a meeting of former opposition lawmakers was held yesterday to discuss the possibility of ending the boycott and contesting the election. He said 11 former MPs attended the meeting, which decided to hold another meeting in the coming few days to allow other opposition figures to attend and then take an unanimous decision on whether to take part in the polls or not.
Two key opposition figures, former Assembly speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun and deputy speaker Khaled Al-Sultan did not attend the meeting. The two figures have explicitly announced that they will not run in the election because the opposition will not be able to change the status quo. Other leading MPs who have said they will not run include Faisal Al-Mislem, Khaled Al-Tahous, Mohammad Al-Khalifa and others.
Dozens of opposition activists meanwhile visited the houses of a number of former MPs to convince them to end their boycott and contest the election in order to prevent “corrupt” lawmakers reaching the house. The activists visited the residence of former Islamist MP Jamaan Al-Harbash, who did not provide a clear-cut answer, telling the activists that he is contemplating the issue. The activists also launched a Twitter campaign to urge opposition leaders to contest the polls in order to win a majority in the 50-seat Assembly.
Controversial lawmaker Abdulhameed Dashti told Syrian government news channel that he plans to contest the election despite living outside the country to escape over 30 years of jail terms against him for insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Islamic Constitutional Movement said it will name six candidates to run in the polls. The liberal Kuwait Democratic Forum said yesterday the dissolution of the Assembly is like a time bomb that could drag the country into further political disputes. It said in a statement that although the decision appears to fulfill constitutional requirements, the reasons for dissolving the Assembly are very weak and could trigger a legal battle.
KUWAIT: Opposition leader and former Islamist MP Jamaan Al-Harbash (second right) speaks as activists gather at his house yesterday to urge him to run for office and to end his boycott of the coming parliamentary elections.