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Poll law amendment constitutional: Kuwait Emir

Opposition seeks to renew pressure through new rally on November 11

Image Credit: AFP
Opposition supporters block a road in Kuwait City during ademonstration against changes to the electoral law.
Gulf News

Manama: With only 24 days left for the controversial parliamentary elections in Kuwait, neither side in the duelling equation seemed ready to change course.

Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah said that he was confident that the amendment of the electoral law was the right decision to make.

“I have explained the reasons for amending the electoral law and I said that it was in response to pressing interests that could not be procrastinated,” Shaikh Sabah said.

“It was meant to protect national unity, deepen democracy practices, secure equal opportunities and ensure the representation of the various segments of the society. I had the constitutional prerogative to make the decision and I made it before God and the people of Kuwait. I would not have made it otherwise,” he said in his address to Kuwaiti citizens.

However, Shaikh Sabah said that the next parliament could review the amendment and any negative aspect of the electoral law. He added that the amendment had affected some people because they would lose privileges.

“We understand the resentment of those whose interests were harmed by the amendment and we respect their views and their ways of expressing them within the framework of the law. However, no one has the right to transgress or break the laws that regulate freedom and the practice of civilised politics,” he said.

Clashes had marred two demonstrations organised by the opposition to force the revocation of the amendment of the electoral law that reduced the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one.

The government said that the change to the “one voter, one vote” principle meant to ensure a fairer representation of the nation in the 50-member parliament.

However, the opposition said that the amendment aimed to curb its influence and to bring in a rubber-stamp parliament. It vowed to resist it, mainly through street pressure tactics.

Prominent figures from the opposition said that they would boycott the elections on December 1 and launched a massive campaign for a national no-show on Election Day.

A popular committee for the boycott of the elections was set up on Tuesday with the expressed aim of reducing dramatically the number of candidates and voters “so that the next parliament does not represent the nation and can therefore be cancelled easily.”

Registration for the elections has started and reports said that 96 people had have submitted their applications to run in the national polls. The figure is well below the numbers in the last elections in February, but it does allow for the holding of the polls and the election of a new parliament.

Pressed by time and in new attempts to reverse the course of events, the opposition said that it would stage a demonstration or a rally on November 11.

Former MP Waleed Al Tabtabai said that it would be the largest held in recent months.