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Kuwait polls likely to be postponed

Cabinet awaits court’s explanation to select date

  • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
  • Published: 13:20 June 25, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s parliament elections, announced for July 25, will have to be postponed following an inability to start the registration of potential candidates.

Under Kuwait’s law, the authorities overseeing the elections must start signing up eligible candidates one month before the date of the national polls.

The registration process was due to start on June 25, but the cabinet on Monday delayed it until after the Constitutional Court provides the legal arguments for its ruling last week that dissolved the parliament but upheld the “one voter, one voter” decree that amended the 2006 electoral law and caused deep rifts within society.

The Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court whose decisions cannot be challenged, is scheduled to explain the verdict on Wednesday.

“Since the court is set to explain its verdict on Wednesday, the cabinet decided to halt all procedures for the implementation of the rulings, including the decree calling upon voters to cast their ballots in the elections and the subsequent launch of the candidates’ registration process,” the cabinet said following its weekly session.

The precautionary move is part of the government’s drive to ensure full compliance with the letter and spirit of the constitution following a series of missteps that have resulted in serious embarrassment, legal standoffs, the dissolution of parliament, and the holding of parliamentary elections.

Elections were held in February 2012, but were later annulled paving the way for new polls in December that were cancelled last week.

The February 2012 parliament was dissolved four months later and the December legislative house was dissolved in June.

The situation has prompted several lawmakers to take strong measures against legal advisers and consultants for reportedly failing to steer the country’s constitutional institutions clear of contentious issues.

Even as the government has decided to adopt caution before calling for the new elections, Kuwait is now rife with interpretations of the Constitutional Court ruling, related mainly to the legal merit of reinstating the parliament elected in 2009, dissolved in December 2011, reinstated in June 2012 and dissolved three months later, in early October.

Mohammad Al Moqate, a constitutional expert, argued in an article published in Al Qabas daily that the court ruling meant that the 2009 parliament must be reinstated after the court ruled that the December 2012 elections were “null and void”.

He said that under Kuwaiti laws, the failure to hold elections within 60 days of the dissolution of the parliament meant that the parliament is reinstated.

Since the 2009 parliament was dissolved in October, but the December elections and the subsequent parliament elected in February were nullified by the Constitutional Court, the 2009 legislative house should be reinstated.

Under this theory, Kuwait’s eyes will be firmly set on the Constitutional Court’s explanation.

If it says that the 2009 should be reinstated, the government will have to dissolve it at a later stage to pave the way for new elections and the process is expected to take some time.

Should the Constitutional Court explain that the 2009 parliament is not to be reinstated, the decree calling for the new elections will be issued, but on a date that leaves the powers overseeing the polls with the mandatory one-month period for the registration process.

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