Kuwait at political crossroads as crisis looms

October 21, 2012

The limpid water lapping the large stones of the corniche edging Kuwait City on Sunday looked serenely attractive and blissfully tranquil. However, a few hundred metres away, the sprawling city has turned into an arena for an unprecedented level of bickering among Kuwaitis divided by interpretation of the latest constitutional and political developments.

The opposition was getting ready for a showdown with the authorities, moving ahead with its decision to stage rallies to protest against the decision to amend the 2006 electoral law that reduced the number of candidates a voter could elect from four to one.

Those who supported the government’s move said that it was the right step towards international standards and that the rule is “one man [or woman], one vote.”

However, the opposition said that the reduction to a single vote aimed to ensure the election of a more compliant parliament, unlike the one elected in February and which was dominated by religious and tribal figures.

The parliament was dissolved in June following a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court that said that the decrees to dissolve the previous parliament and to call for elections were unconstitutional.

The opposition said that it would take to the street if the electoral law was amended. On Friday, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad said that he ordered the government to make the “necessary changes.”

The opposition said that it would mobilise supporters and take to the street.

The warning issued by the interior ministry on Saturday that it would adopt a zero-tolerance towards illegal gatherings warning did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the opposition to go ahead with the public show of force through staging three rallies that would start in different places in the city at 7.30pm and converge at 8.30pm outside the prime minister’s court.

The opposition listed the names of former lawmakers who said that they would boycott voting and running in the parliamentary elections to be held on December 1 as announced by the Emir in an address to the nation on Friday evening.

On Sunday, the Emir received a group of tribal leaders who have reportedly pledged their support for the country’s stability.

According to reports in Kuwait, the leaders accepted the reasons for amending the electoral law and were convinced that the amendment would serve the higher interests of the nation.

Several public figures, including former lawmakers, and online users joined the chorus of voices supporting the ‘one man, one vote’ spirit and said that it would cut down the influence of religious and tribal candidates.

They said that the boycott threats would mean a “more reinvigorated parliament”.




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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