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Kuwait court scraps poll, approves electoral law

Constitutional Court upholds Emir’s single-ballot principle

  • Parliament Speaker Ali Al Rashid smiles as he leavesthe national assembly on Sunday.Image Credit: AFP
  • Police stand guard outside the Kuwait city court room before the decision.Image Credit: REUTERS
  • Lawyer Duhaim AlMuzairi flashes the victory sign outside the court on Sunday.Image Credit: REUTERS
Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s Constitutional Court on Sunday cancelled the parliamentary elections held in December and called for fresh polls within two months.

However, the court upheld the electoral system decreed by the Emir in October and which slashed the number of ballots a voter can cast from four to one.

According to constitutional experts cited Kuwait City, the ruling was one of mainly four possibilities that included the country’s top court throwing out the case, rejecting the amendment and dissolving the parliament and upholding the amendment and keeping the parliament.

The opposition had pushed for the abolition of the Emiri decree, issued under Article 71 of the Constitution that allows the promulgation of decree in the absence of the parliament, saying that it was unconstitutional.

The landmark court ruling should reinstate the 2009 parliament in the dramatic déjà-vu development.

The parliament, which included four women for the first time in Kuwait’s history, was dissolved in 2011 and elections were held in February. However, the two decrees dissolving the parliament and calling for new elections were deemed unconstitutional in 2012. The ruling reinstated the 2009 parliament, but the lawmakers were never able to convene, and the Emir called for new elections in December.

In October, the Emir amended the 2006 electoral law and reduced the maximum number a voter could elect from four to one.

The government said that it wanted to address all loopholes in the electoral law and to adopt the international standard of “one voter, one vote”.

However, the opposition said that the decree meant to ensure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament and to reduce its influence and called for the boycott of the parliamentary elections on December 1. It argued that the amendment breached the constitution and that the government should have waited until a parliament was elected and the lawmakers made the changes to the law.

A series of rallies and demonstrations by the opposition to put street pressure and resort to boycott tactics failed to cancel the elections and the issue was eventually taken to the country’s highest court.

According to Kuwaiti media, the court has received 56 challenges against the elections held on December 1, including 23 against the amendment to the electoral law under Article 71.