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Kuwait opposition calls for multi-party system

Threatens to boycott polls if government changes electoral law or voting system

Image Credit: AFP
Kuwaiti opposition MP Ahmad Al Saadun addresses a meeting of opposition lawmakers inKuwait City in the wake of the dissolution of the parliament and the resignation of the cabinet.
Gulf News

Kuwait City: Kuwait’s opposition has stepped up the demand for a multi-party system as part of a host of political and constitutional reforms to achieve a full parliamentary system and an elected government.

In a joint statement issued on Monday night and titled a ‘declaration to the nation’, the Islamist and nationalist opposition also called for legalising political parties, reforming the judiciary and fighting corruption.

“The proposed constitutional and political reforms aim at strengthening the principles of rational governance and to limit the dominance of the executive authority on the political decision-making process,” the statement said.

The opposition said that the state is passing through “the worst political phase of its modern history” citing stalled development, rampant corruption, political instability and non-stop crises.

The statement was endorsed by 35 of the 50 members of the parliament that was scrapped last month by a court ruling and strongly supported by youth activist groups and a number of civil society organisations.

The latest political crisis in Kuwait unfolded after the constitutional court last month declared February’s legislative election, won by the opposition, illegal and reinstated the previous pro-government parliament.

The constitutional court based its decision on the grounds that two decrees dissolving the previous parliament and calling for a fresh election, both issued in December, were found to be flawed.

The ruling also forced the government to resign on June 25 after just over four months in office. It said the move was designed to pave the way to take the necessary legal action to implement the verdict.

The opposition called for forming a new cabinet soon, dissolving the reinstated parliament and calling for fresh polls. It threatened to boycott the election if the government changed the electoral law or voting system.

Kuwait was the first Arab state in the Gulf to introduce democracy 50 years ago but the constitution vests massive power in the hands of the monarchy.

Political parties are currently banned in Kuwait though several groups act as de-facto parties, and the winning group should form the government.

Since 1962, the government has been headed by a senior member of the ruling Al Sabah family, which has been in power for the past 250 years. Members of the ruling family also normally hold the key posts of defence, interior and foreign affairs.

Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises since 2006 with the government forced to resign nine times and parliament dissolved on five occasions.