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Campaigns to intensify as Kuwaitis await Election Day

Strong stances hobble agreement on national polls merit

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwaitis opposed to the parliamentary elections said that they would use the next two weeks to step up pressure for their boycott on December 1.

Action includes a rally on Sunday and visits to several private halls to interact with members of the community to promote the call for not casting ballots on election day.

“We have already started contacting people in private halls in the five electoral constituencies,” Osama Al Shaheen, a former lawmaker, said following a meeting of 18 ex-MPs who have spearheaded calls for the boycott. “Each of us will be in charge of activities in his constituency. All of us will of course be present at the rally on Sunday at Irada Square,” he said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Jareeda on Wednesday.

Nayef Al Merdas, another former lawmaker, said that several forums would also be held to convey the election boycott message.

The opposition had vowed to resort to street pressure tactics and public assemblies to push for the boycott after the Emir, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahma Al Sabah, said that he would not reconsider the amendment of the 2006 electoral law that reduced the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one.

The government said that the amendment would ensure a fairer representation of the nation, in line with the international standard of “one voter, one vote”.

However, the opposition said that it would reduce its influence and would bring in a rubber stamp parliament.

Officials said that 387 candidates signed up their names in the registration process in the first ten days of the month, an unexpectedly high figure amid initial claims by the opposition that the boycott drive was successful.

Several hopefuls have launched their campaign to win seats in the 50-member parliament, with the issue of the “Bidoon”, stateless people, as a priority for at least 18 of them.

However, a statement by Falah Bin Jamie, the leader of Al Awazem tribe, that he would not welcome any candidate from his tribe, one of the country’s largest tribes.

His call was hailed by the boycotters as a wise decision, but considered by those who supported the elections as a consecration of tribal power over the concept of civil state and institutions.

The tribal dimension is still highly significant in Kuwait and other Gulf states.