For­mer op­po­si­tion MPs to likely end polls boy­cott

Reg­is­tra­tion of can­di­dates starts to­day

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By B Iz­zak

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.

— Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

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.

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