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Either a state of law or chaos: Kuwait Emir

Election supporters, opponents push for greater backing

Image Credit: AFP
Protesters run for cover as Kuwait riot police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse thousands of angry demonstratorswho marched on the central prison where a leading opposition figure is detained, in Kuwait City on October 31, 2012.
Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s Emir said that Kuwaitis had to choose between a state of law and a condition of chaos and abuse.

“We have to make the choice between a state of law and constitution and a state of chaos and abuse of the constitution,” Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah told army and security officers.

However, the emir said that he would not falter in dealing with attempts to undermine the security of the nation and the safety of the people and that there would be no leniency in applying the law regardless of the name.

The Arabian Gulf state has waded into a political and constitutional crisis after the Constitutional Court ruled in June that the decrees calling for the dissolution of the parliament elected in 2009 and for holding parliamentary elections were unconstitutional.

The verdict de facto dissolved the 2012 parliament dominated by tribal and Islamist lawmakers and reinstated the 2009 legislative house.

However, the reinstated parliament twice failed to convene and the emir called for legislative elections on December 1.

A move by the government in August to amend the 2006 electoral law that reduced the number of constituencies from 25 to five was rejected by the Constitutional Court.

However, the emir, using powers conferred by the constitution, amended the law and slashed the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one.

For the government, the amendment would ensure a fairer representation of the nation in the parliament.

But, for the opposition, it was a move to reduce its influence and bring in more compliant parliaments.

Two demonstrations to press for the cancellation of the amendment have ended in clashes and injuries among demonstrators and securitymen.

The opposition charged that the police used excessive violence to deal with the demonstrators.

However, the emir told the police that their readiness to deal with chaos was commendable.

“You were up to the trust and responsibilities placed in you,” he told them. “You displayed a high sense of patriotism in confronting those who attempted to undermine the security and safety of the nation,” he said.

The emir said that he rejected “chaotic and irresponsible acts by some people who organised illegal assemblies and rallies that caused fear and worries among people and included attacks on securitymen performing their sacred duty”.

The opposition has however said that it would continue with the public rejection of the amendment and announced that it would hold a rally on Sunday.

The date coincides with the celebration of the Kuwait constitution anniversary, the oldest in the region.

Figures from the opposition also set up a committee to help with the boycott of the elections and said that it would send people to all areas of the country to convey the message that the parliamentary polls should be boycotted.

The opposition believes that a low turnout would produce a weak parliament that would not be representative of the people and would be dismissed.

Election supporters have been dismissing the boycott calls and urged Kuwaitis to exercise their political rights.

Officials said that 115 candidates have signed up to run in the elections for the 50 seats after 21 people filed their applications on Tuesday.