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Kuwait opposition plans rally as elections near

Government says no grounds for case against electoral law amendment

Gulf News

Manama: The Kuwaiti opposition is planning a new rally on November 30, hours before an increasingly divided nation elects a new parliament.

It will be the last chance for major opposition figures to press for the boycott of the parliamentary elections, a move it launched weeks earlier to protest against the amendment of the 2006 electoral law.

The change slashed the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one, and the opposition said that it was meant to reduce its power and to ensure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament.

Two rallies staged by the opposition despite a formal ban by the interior ministry in October and earlier this month ended in clashes between the demonstrators and the police and in injuries on both sides.

In its call for the rally, the opposition that has been pushing for the boycott of the polling stations said that the Kuwaiti street would be the real ballot boxes for the nation.

However, the calls to keep away from the elections as candidates and voters have not seemingly been heeded by parliament hopefuls whose initial number reached 397 despite a slow start.

In the absence of the usual heavyweights in the next parliament, the chances of this year’s candidates in getting elected are bound to receive a great boost.

Election officials on Monday said that they were ruling out the candidacy of 37 hopefuls on the grounds of their negative justice records or reputation.

Several of the eliminated candidates said that they would challenge the decision and the administrative court said that it would look into disputes filed by 30 parliament hopefuls on Wednesday and Thursday.

The final list of the candidates vying for the 50 seats in the parliament will be known on Saturday, one week before Election Day.

A case filed by Riyadh Al Sana’a, a lawyer, against the amendment of the electoral law will be reviewed by a court on November 26.

The lawyer claimed that reducing the number of votes from four to one was unconstitutional.

The government has called for throwing out the case.