Gulf | Kuwait

Kuwait opposition argues over elections and constitution amendments

Opposition launches push to reinvigorate its campaign

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau chief
  • Published: 11:57 March 31, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s opposition has launched a new push to reinvigorate its campaign amid indications that the latest strains to emerge could seriously erode its unity and purpose.

“The opposition is holding together and there are no divergences over the principles announced earlier,” Ahmad Al Saadoon, former parliament Speaker, said following a meeting of the opposition on Saturday evening.

“Whoever believes that the opposition will be disintegrated is totally wrong. We will hold a meeting next Thursday to coordinate efforts for a unified field action plan. Our alliance remains committed to an elected parliamentary government and to the boycott of the legislative elections if they are not held based on the 2006 electoral law,” he said, quoted by Kuwaiti media.

However, assurances given by Al Saadoon about the unity and cohesion of the opposition did not conceal the widening cracks in the alliance of political groups stemming from a wide spectrum.

The latest fissures were related to the stance on the next parliamentary elections following the expected announcement of the Constitutional Court ruling on the “one voter, one vote” decree.

“Even if the decree is consolidated by the Constitutional Court, we should continue to boycott the elections and reinvigorate the street against it,” some opposition figures said on Saturday evening.

However, another trend within the opposition said that continuing to boycott the elections would eventually reduce their influence.

“If we pull out of the elections, the field will be wide open for the government and its supporters,” the group was reported as saying by local Arabic daily Alem Al Youm. “They will be able to amend the laws and the citizens will blame the opposition for not assuming its responsibilities and allowing others to win in the parliamentary elections. The people are saying that the opposition, by abstaining, has allowed the formation of the current parliament,” they said.

The decree last summer slashed the number of candidates a voter could elect from four to one.

The government argued that it was in line with international standards and to address legal loopholes.

However, the opposition said that it aimed to curb its influence and vowed to have it reversed through street pressure, legal cases and the boycott of the elections.

The elections were held on December 1 and their success left the opposition licking its wounds as it pondered its options amid growing divergences.

The opposition cracks were likely to be widened after Islamist members, who dominated the parliament elected in February 2012 and dissolved four months later, insisted on their own views.

“We cannot accept that some brothers announce individual positions on crucial topics before the approval of the majority because that would be political recklessness that prejudices the majority,” former MP Mohammad Al Hayef said, quoted by Al Rai daily on Sunday.

“The priority of the opposition for amending the constitution should be Article Two because we want the application of Sharia. If we are serious about making changes, they should be related to Islamic principles as this is a popular demand. We are waiting for the other components of the opposition to express their views on this issue so that we can take up the other matters,” the Islamist ex-MP said.

Article II of the Kuwaiti constitution stipulates that “the religion of the State is Islam, and the Islamic Sharia shall be a main source of legislation”.

Islamists in Kuwait have been pushing for making Sharia Law the sole source of legislation in the country.

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