Manama: Badr Al Mulla and Abdullah Al Kandari have won the two seats contested in Kuwait’s parliamentary by-elections.
According to results announced late on Saturday evening, Al Mulla secured 4,657 votes in the Second Constituency and Al Kandari 6,705 votes in the Third Constituency.
Turnout at the by-elections was 42 per cent, a figure that is lower than the 65.2 per cent in the elections of the sitting parliament in November 2016. However, it is higher than the 40 per cent of the December 2012 parliamentary elections.
The victory of Al Mulla and Al Kandari deprived Islamist groups of new seats in the 50-member parliament despite the massive campaigns for their candidates in both constituencies.
It also deprived women of securing a second seat in the parliament where Safa Al Hashem remains the lone female lawmaker. Five women were among the 47 candidates who contested in the elections.
The number of women who were eligible to cast their ballots in the by-elections was higher than that of men, 84,291 to 74,784, prompting questions about the extent of support of female candidates among female voters.
Al Mulla and Al Kandari will serve until the end of the term of the current parliament in 2020.
The Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad congratulated Kuwaitis on the success of the by-elections and praised the efforts exerted to ensure a smooth democratic process.
The by-elections were held to replace former lawmakers Jamaan Al Harbesh in the Second Constituency and Waleed Al Tabtabaei in the Third Constituency.
The two ex-lawmakers were unseated after they were given jail sentences for their involvement in the storming of the parliament building in November 2011 during a rally calling for the resignation or removal of then-Prime Minister Shaikh Nasser Al Mohammad.
The unseating of Al Tabtabaie and Al Harbash had gripped Kuwait for months and the country needed the Constitutional Court for the denouement of the case in a historic ruling.
Al Tabtabaie and Al Harbash, currently out of Kuwait, were among a group of 67 defendants that included 10 former and sitting lawmakers who forced their way into the parliament building.
The incident, unprecedented in Kuwait’s history, was labelled “Black Wednesday” and caused uproar in the country. The suspects insisted they acted “without malicious intention”.
The case remained pending until December 2013 when the Criminal Court acquitted all suspects.
However, the Court of Appeals in November 2017 rejected the ruling, and sentenced the defendants to jail terms ranging from one to nine years.
Al Tabtabai and Al Harbash were sentenced to three years and six months each. The verdict was confirmed by the Cassation Court, the highest court in the country, in May last year.
However, the parliament in October and under the umbrella of Article 16 of its bylaws and after a heated debate among its members voted to keep the membership of the two lawmakers.
The case was referred to the Constitutional Court which said that Article 16 made court rulings “hostage” to the will of the parliament and was unconstitutional, annulling the parliament’s decision and ordering the two lawmakers to serve their prison terms.