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Kuwait opposition set to challenge one-vote rule

Government warns against bids to pressure voters, sabotage elections

Image Credit: AFP
Kuwaitis protest against the upcoming parliamentary election in front of the elections department building in Kuwait City on October 31,2012.
Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s opposition is launching a series of separate challenges to the amendment of the 2006 electoral law in both the Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court in an attempt to annul it before the parliamentary elections on December 1.

Reports in the Arabian Gulf country said that the opposition now seemed to agree that the most effective way to revoke the amendment would be through legal action and not street pressure tactics after two rallies in October and November ended in clashes between protesters and the police.

“The Liberal Movement has started drafting memoranda to challenge the amendment,” sources told local Arabic daily Al Watan. “Former MP Saleh Al Mulla said that he would take his case against the one vote to court and that he would hold a press conference to brief the media on the issue.”

Former lawmaker Marzouq Al Ganem said that he would work with Kuwaiti nationals to take the anti-amendment case to the Constitutional Court, the sources said.

The daily, quoting an opposition figure it did not identify, said that the new challenge for those who have called for the boycott of the parliamentary elections, the second to be held this year following the national polls on February 4, was to limit the number of those who would cast their ballots on December 1.

Targeting low turnout

“The low turnout figure would be used as an indicator to undermine the success of the elections,” he said. “The ad-hoc teams formed by the opposition to push for the boycott are ready and will be implementing their action plans starting next week. They will push for the boycott until election day.”

However, government sources told Al Watan that people had the right to boycott or take part in elections, but could not force others to follow their views.

Those caught trying to prevent people from exercising their voting rights or working on sabotaging the elections would be apprehended, the sources said.

Kuwait has been bitterly divided over a series of court rulings and decisions related to parliamentary election laws and an amendment of the controversial 2006 electoral law.

The amendment brought down the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one amid statements by the government that it would ensure a fairer representation of people in the parliament.

Supporters said that the amendment upheld the international “one voter, one vote” principle.

However, the opposition said that the government wanted to ensure the election of a rubber stamp parliament and argued that the one vote would facilitate the buying of voters’ support by candidates.