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Kuwait court rejects moves to halt elections

Cases argued need to address pending issues ahead of polls

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s administrative court on Sunday rejected four cases filed to halt the parliamentary elections due later this month. The court said that it had no power to look into the cases submitted separately by three lawyers on behalf of their clients requesting that the national polls to elect a new parliament on July 27 be suspended.

In one case, a Kuwaiti citizen argued that his new residential area, Al Nahda, was not registered in any of the five electoral constituencies, and that due to the situation, he and his neighbours could not exercise their political rights and take part in the elections.

The second case claimed that the government that endorsed the Emir’s call for the parliamentary elections did not have the constitutional right to be associated with the national elections. According to the case, one of the ministers, Dhikra Al Rasheedi, a parliamentarian who was appointed to the government after she won in the December polls as stipulated by the constitution, had lost her parliamentary status after the Constitutional Court dissolved the parliament. The lawyer said that the court ruling meant that Dhikra could no longer be part of the government and that the cabinet could only be involved in urgent matters, but could not make the decision to back up the elections.

The decision by the administrative court on Sunday is another blow for the opposition that has been pushing for the boycott of the elections after it had failed to reverse the October decree that amended the 2006 electoral law and slashed the number of ballots a voter could cast from four to one. The opposition, made up mainly of religious and tribal figures who performed well in the February elections, said that the amendment was intended to curb its influence and ensure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament.

However, the government has rejected the charges and said that the amendment addressed possible loopholes in the law and brought Kuwait in line with international election standards. The standoff culminated in October and November when the opposition took to the streets and leading figures delivered fiery speeches that galvanised support, but also waded into controversy for “trespassing social conventions and traditions” and resulted in bitter legal battles in the court.