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Kuwaiti opposition to rally support abroad

Other MPs condemn efforts to internationalise domestic issues

Gulf News

Manama: Political storm clouds are looming large over Kuwait after the opposition said that it had formed a team that would take its case against the election of the parliament last month to international organisations.

Two former lawmakers, a rights activist and a lawyer with international connections were reportedly chosen as the members of the team.

However, the announcement drew immediate condemnation from Kuwaitis who said that they were opposed to “the internationalisation of domestic issues.”

“We have formed a team that will have contacts with international media, European parliaments and rights organisations,” opposition figure Badr Al Dahoom said. “We will review ideas and documents at a press conference to be held on Monday,” the ex-MP said, quoted by local Arabic daily Alem Al Youm.

Another former lawmaker, Mubarak Al Alwan, told the newspaper that the team would also have contacts with the US Congress, the House of Parliament in London, the French Senate and some international organizations.

The moves aim to put pressure on the government to reverse a decree that slashed the number a voter can 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”.

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.

A series of rallies and demonstrations had however failed to cancel the elections or the outcome and the issue was taken to the country’s highest court.The opposition, looking for new ways to put pressure on the government, has decided to resort to international bodies.

However, the tactic was condemned by lawmakers who said that they were shocked by the decision to go international.

“Kuwait is an independent and sovereign state that respects international covenants and has a multitude of international relations,” MP Adnan Al Mutawa said. “Freedom of speech is singularly upheld and I am upset by those who do not respect the judiciary system and threaten to go to international organisatons and claim that Kuwait does not have a sound judiciary system,” he said, quoted by the local media.

MP Abdullah Al Maayouf said that the opposition two generations ago refused seeking assistance from the “infidels.”.

“When the Iraqi regime invaded Kuwait, the Muslim Brotherhood refused enlisting the help of foreign forces to liberate Kuwait based on the claim that they were non-Muslims,” the lawmaker said. “They said that assistance from infidels must not be accepted. But how come today they are seeking help from non-Muslim international organizations against Kuwait? I let the people of Kuwait judge the degree of patriotism of some opposition members,” he said.

Iraq invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990, but the troops of former regime strongman Saddam Hussain were forced to flee the country in February 1991 following a successful military intervention by a US-led international coalition.