Kuwait City: After almost a decade of boycotting parliamentary elections, prominent opposition figure and former MP Dr. Obaid Al Wasmi announced that he will be taking part in Kuwait’s by-elections in the fifth electoral district.
Al Wasmi, a professor of law at Kuwait University, announced on Twitter on Friday night that he will be running in the parliamentary by-elections in the fifth district to fill the vacant seat of Bader Al Dahoum “until his return”.
Several MPs welcomed Al Wasmi’s candidacy and stated they are awaiting his return to the Abdullah Al Salem hall inside the parliament building.
Elections are set to be held on May 22 and Al Wasmi has a very good chance of winning.
Return to the scene
Once Al Wasmi shared the news on Twitter, a hashtag with his name was trending worldwide - an unprecedented public reaction in Kuwait’s history.
This is the first parliamentary elections Al Wasmi will be participating in since 2012, after he boycotted the elections following the Emiri decree which changed the electoral law from four votes to a single non-transferable vote system.
While Al Wasmi refrained from engaging in elections, he remained active in the Kuwaiti political scene. He also constantly shared his opinion on events that occurred, especially in the capacity of the law and the constitution.
Last year, shortly before Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah was appointed Emir, he met with Al Wasmi and Abdullah Al Nafisi, another prominent opposition figure. Al Wasmi and Al Nafisi presented the Emir with the ‘Kuwait Document’ which outlines demands that include: political reconciliation, forming a salvation government, reforming the judiciary, and hiring independent foreign agencies for help create a new electoral system.
On Saturday, Al Wasmi submitted the papers and is officially on the ballot in the fifth electoral district.
Once registration closed on Saturday, there were a total of 35 candidates. That number can change leading up to the election date as candidates have the right to drop out up to seven days before the scheduled election date.
So far, Dr. Abdulhadi Al Ajmi has dropped out of the race after Al Wasmi announced his candidacy and said in a Tweet, “My withdrawal is without a doubt to support and unify the national movement”.
The by-elections are being held after Al Dahoum’s membership was annulled, last month, by Kuwait’s Constitutional Court based on a previous case where he was charged with “insulting the Emir”.
The court revoked Al Dahoum’s membership as per a 2016 law that states anyone convicted of insulting the Emir will be barred from taking part in the parliamentary elections.
Al Dahoum is a staunch critic of the government and his removal from parliament created even a greater divide between the government and the opposition.