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Kuwait opposition divided over new rally

Calls to wait until Constitutional Court rules in single vote cases

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s opposition seemed divided over the merit of going ahead with a new rally on Sunday to press for the cancellation of the results of the legislative elections held more than one month ago.

Members said that the rally, the fifth to be organised by the opposition, should be held as scheduled to pile up public pressure to hold fresh elections under the old electoral system that gave every voter the right to elect four candidates.

However, other members of the opposition said that the rally should be deferred, arguing that most Kuwaitis keen on participating in the event would be either camping with their families in the desert or would be out of the country.

Another group said that the opposition should slow down and wait for the ruling by the Constitutional Court, Kuwait’s highest court, on the validity of the one voter, one vote decree.

The electoral system introduced in 2006 was replaced last year by a new rule that allowed a voter to elect only one candidate, in line with international standards. The decision sparked angry protests by the opposition that resulted in the boycott of the elections and calls to hold rallies and conferences to reinstate the former electoral law.

Initial claims that the boycott drive was successful and that the reported low turnout affected the credibility of the results were later denied by the official figures that said that around 40 per cent of the registered voters cast their ballots.

The outcome left the opposition pondering new moves to press for its arguments as it licked its wounds.

Several people had filed suits against the decree to amend the electoral system that kept the five constituency system, but reduced the number of candidates a voter could elect.

The opposition is pinning high hopes on the Constitutional Court decision to boost its chances of bringing down the current parliament and holding parliamentary elections.

According to local daily Al Alam Al Youm, the final decision on holding a rally will be taken on Thursday at a meeting organised by former parliament speaker Ahmad Al Sa’adoun.

Tribal figures and Islamists dominated the parliament elected in February and dissolved in June after the Constitutional Court ruled that the decrees that ended the term of the 2009 legislative house and called for the elections in early 2012 were unconstitutional.

The elections on December 1 resulted in a new-look parliament with several newcomers and three women lawmakers.

Four women were elected in 2009 in a breakthrough for parliaments in Kuwait, but no woman won a seat in last year’s February elections.