Kuwait opposition in agitation mode on electoral law

August 31, 2012

Kuwait’s opposition announced plans for a public gathering on Monday evening as it seeks to exert public pressure on the government to reverse its decision to consult the constitutional court on the constitutionality of the controversial electoral law.

Several political formations and former lawmakers said that they would take part in the rally at the Erada Square and protest against the decision to review the five-constituency electoral system.

The opposition was hopeful of mobilising a large number of participants despite the emerging rifts within its ranks.

The calls by some opposition lawmakers to push demands to include the election of the government and the promulgation of political parties have been rejected by other opposition groups, mainly those allied with the powerful tribes.

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The divergent positions are likely to compound the delicate political situation in the country.

The National Democratic Alliance said it would not participate in the protest.

Khalid Al Khalid, the secretary-general, said that the timing of the proposed demonstration was inappropriate and called on people to wait for the court’s verdict.

A claim that the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF) planned to launch comprehensive strikes if the electoral constituencies were amended was denied by the labour organisation on Friday.

The union is non-political and only organises labour action, it said in a statement as the war of words between those who support the street tactics and those who oppose them escalated.

The Kuwaiti cabinet on August 15 referred the electoral law endorsed in 2006 to the Constitutional Court requesting its view on the constitutionality of Articles 1 and 2 related to the five-constituency system and the number of candidates each voter can elect.

The government argued that the arrangement was unfair to the constituencies and that it should be amended to ensure democratic practices and the representation of all sectors and groups in the parliament.

The move by the cabinet follows a ruling by the court in June that the decrees to dissolve the 2009 parliament and to call for new elections in February were unconstitutional.

The decision that in effect dissolved the 2012 parliament and reinstated the former legislative body sparked a controversy in the country and eventually resulted in a bitter political standoff that has led to a constitutional vacuum.

The 2009 parliament could not convene despite two attempts by its speaker and the newly-formed government could not be sworn in.

The government justified its decision to consult the constitutional court to ensure there are no constitutional or legal loopholes that could be used against constitutional institutions following months of bickering that have stalled several national projects.

However, the opposition charged that the government wanted to change the number of the constituencies to ensure greater support from lawmakers and avoid a repeat of the February elections dominated by MPs affiliated with tribes and Islamists.

The constitutional court is set to start looking into the case on September 5.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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