Kuwait: Strong showing by opposition, outgoing Assembly punished | Kuwait Times

Opposition groups and individuals made an impressive showing in the National Assembly elections by winning almost half of the 50 seats, with Kuwaiti voters dealing a heavy blow to the previous Assembly that failed to stop the government from raising petrol prices. The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition, which returned to the polls after a four-year boycott, won at least 15 seats, with between seven and 10 seats won by its allies. This will enable the opposition to grill ministers and vote them out of office, which will considerably boost its power in the next Assembly. Islamists make the backbone of the opposition, with the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the local arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, bagging four seats and a few supporters.

Kuwait: Citizens abroad express desire to vote in elections | Kuwait Times

In spite of the long and leading march of democracy of Kuwait, the parliamentary election law does not give citizens abroad the opportunity to vote as is the case in most democratic countries. It has been the practice in democratic countries where citizens living abroad are allowed to vote in the elections, even if they are resident outside the country, making it easier for the voters to exercise their right and increase the rate of participation in the electoral process.
Participation of Kuwaitis living or studying abroad is of a great significance especially with the rise in their numbers in recent years, which is difficult for many of them to return to the country on time for the parliamentary elections.

Kuwait: Liberals, smaller tribes win seats in Kuwait vote after boycott | Reuters

Liberals and candidates from some of Kuwait’s more marginalized tribes have won seats in a parliament which may prove more cooperative with the ruling family after opposition Islamists and populists boycotted the election. Saturday’s ballot was the sixth since 2006 in the major oil producer, where political upheaval and bureaucracy have held up the vast majority of projects in a 30-billion-dinar ($105-billion) economic development plan announced in 2010. Kuwait has the most open political system in the Gulf Arab region but parliaments have been repeatedly dissolved over procedural disputes or for challenging the government in which members of the ruling Al-Sabah family hold top posts.

Kuwait: Kuwait Prepares Election as Opposition Boycott Threatens Turnout | Bloomberg

Kuwait is set to hold parliamentary elections for the third time in 18 months, as a boycott by the opposition movement undermines public interest in the campaign. The vote on July 27 will go ahead after the country’s constitutional court this week rejected an attempt to postpone it. Kuwait’s opposition won the first of last year’s two elections in February, then refused to take part in the second in December, objecting to changes in voting rules that sparked the country’s most violent street protests. The movement, a mix of Sunni Islamists, liberals and youth groups inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, has called for Kuwait’s rulers to share more powers with elected politicians. It says changes to voting rules ordered last year by Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah were aimed at reducing its chances of winning and making it easier for candidates to buy votes. The emir said they would bolster the democratic process and safeguard unity in Kuwait, OPEC’s third-biggest oil producer.

Kuwait: Crisis-weary Kuwait limps toward parliamentary elections with implications for nation, region | The Washington Post

From boycotting ballots to storming parliament, each time Kuwait heads into parliamentary elections the backstory seems to overshadow the vote. Yet the revolving-door series of elections could have an impact not only on this tiny, oil-rich state, but also on fellow nations in the Gulf and the rest of the region. For the election Saturday to pick a new 50-seat parliament — the most empowered elected political body in the Gulf — there might be another boycott, but the real question is whether the vote will ease the internal pressures on Kuwait’s Western-backed ruling dynasty. The challenges come from an emboldened opposition that includes groups ideologically linked to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and on the other, liberals angered by crackdowns such as prison sentences over social media posts.

Kuwait: Court rejects election challenge, confirms July 27 vote | Reuters

A Kuwaiti administrative court threw out on Sunday legal challenges to a parliamentary election set for July 27, a judicial source and an elections candidate said, effectively paving the way for the vote to proceed on time. Almost constant factional infighting over the past seven years has prompted repeated elections, stalled infrastructure development and held up economic reforms in Kuwait, an important Gulf Arab oil producer and U.S. ally. A legal source said the Kuwait Administrative Court ruled it had no jurisdiction to look into three legal challenges by Kuwaiti citizens to the vote. One case related to a request to incorporate a residential area into one of the five electoral districts, while another pertained to whether the government had lost its legitimacy and thus its eligibility to call for new elections after a court ordered the dissolution of the previous parliament.

Kuwait: Petitions call for Kuwait election to be cancelled | ArabianBusiness.com

Separate petitions have been lodged in Kuwait calling for the impromptu election on July 27 to be cancelled. One petition claims the Cabinet did not have the power to set a new poll date because under Kuwaiti law it must have an elected representative from the National Assembly to make decisions, according to Kuwait Times. The assembly was sacked last month after the Constitutional Court ruled the December 2012 election was null and void, leaving only government members appointed by the prime minister.

Kuwait: Court Dissolves Parliament; Elections Ahead | Associated Press

Kuwait’s constitutional court forced new parliamentary elections Sunday, dissolving the current chamber on the basis of flaws in the election law, the state news agency reported. The decision may set the stage for a new wave of political showdowns in the Gulf nation. The ruling follows objections to the voting law in December’s election, which was boycotted by opposition groups and others who claimed the new rules favored Kuwait’s ruling family and were imposed without public debate.

Kuwait: Tensions rise as Kuwait elections near | MENAFN

With the elections quickly approaching, anticipation as well as tensions have grown on the Kuwaiti streets, with many people still leading the charge on the appeal to boycotting on one hand, while equally a great number still insist on the importance of voting, referring to the upcoming elections as a celebration of democracy. Pro-government voters and candidates alike have continuously reiterated that while it is an inalienable right to boycott elections, this however does not affect the inalienable right to vote itself, and that the legitimacy of the elections still stand.

Kuwait: 40 candidates disqualified – Liberals reaffirm boycott – Tweeters remanded | Kuwait Times

The newly-established National Election Commission yesterday disqualified 40 candidates including several former MPs over a variety of reasons – mainly over not keeping good conduct – but many of them said they will challenge the decision in court and were confident they will nullify the decisions. The commission, established by an Amiri decree last month, comprises nine top judges and is independent. Its decisions cannot be appealed but can be challenged in the administrative court. Prominent among those disqualified are former MPs Youssef Al- Zalzalah, Saleh Ashour, Khalaf Dumaitheer, Askar Al-Enezi, Khaled Al- Adwah, Saadoun Hammad and Mubarak Al-Khrainej, all of whom were incidentally questioned over allegations that they received millions of dinars in illegal deposits into their bank accounts.

Kuwait: Kuwait voting row mushrooms into broader debate over power | chicagotribune.com

What started as a dispute over voting rules in Kuwait has mushroomed into a debate about the balance of power between the emir and parliament, with implications for other Gulf dynasties facing reform pressure since the Arab Spring. Thousands of Kuwaitis have regularly taken to the streets since late October to protest at Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah’s decision to amend the electoral law before a parliamentary election on December 1. While public demonstrations about local issues are common in a state that allows the most dissent in the Gulf, Kuwait – a major oil producer and U.S. ally in a precarious region facing U.S. arch-foe Iran – has avoided Arab Spring-style mass unrest that toppled three veteran Arab dictators last year.

Kuwait: Election boycott gains momentum despite warnings of ‘chaos’ | The National

Juggling a series of calls and texts during a 20-minute period, Mohammad Qasem locked his eyes on his mobile phone as a tweet is composed by committee. The energetic Mr Qasem became the general coordinator on Tuesday for citizens who wants Kuwaitis to boycott the country’s election on December 1. The group’s Twitter account, run by a dozen or so people, gained 20,000 followers in its first 24 hours. “It has to be right,” he said, “because I’m sure this tweet will be all over Kuwait.”

Kuwait: Opposition rejects changes to Kuwait Election Law | MENAFN

Opposition political blocs and the mostly Islamist Majority Bloc signed a document on Saturday that rejects any amendments to the Elections Law prior to the upcoming parliament elections. The document rejects changes to the five constituencies and the number of votes, saying the matter is the prerogative of the legislative authority. The signatories include the Majority Bloc, the Kuwaiti Reform Movement, the Popular Bloc, the Reform and Development Bloc, the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), as well as liberal MP Saleh Al-Mullah. News reports predict that HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will approve the decree dissolving the 2009 Assembly this week, as early as Sunday. The government presented HH the Amir with a draft decree to dissolve the 2009 Assembly last Wednesday. However, parliament sources believe that the dissolution will be delayed to later this month, possibly until after Eid Al-Adha.

Kuwait: Row rages over rumored election law changes – Liberals call for legalizing parties, election commission | Kuwait Times

Two key liberal groups called yesterday for important democratic reforms that include establishing an independent election commission, legalising political parties and issuing legislation to combat corruption as part of democratic reforms necessary to resolve the political deadlock in the country. The National Democratic Alliance, an umbrella group of liberals, and the Kuwait Democratic Forum, made the calls in a joint statement which insisted that these are essential demands to gradually achieving a full parliamentary system of governance after 50 years of democracy. Kuwait does not have an independent election commission and the ministries of interior and justice organize and manage the election process and declare results, whereas the constitutional court tackles challenges to election results or the election process. The statement also called for issuing legislation to guarantee more independence of the judicial authority and to support the constitutional court in order guarantee all factors for a fair judiciary.

Kuwait: Thousands Rally against Court Ruling Dissolving Opposition-led Parliament | International Business Times

Protesters have taken to the streets of Kuwait City to criticise a constitutional court ruling that declared parliamentary elections in February illegal and reinstated the previous parliament. The National Assembly elections saw the opposition dominate and replace a more pro-regime parliament. That election result was torpedoed by the court ruling, which protesters said followed opposition calls for a constitutional monarchy with a full parliamentary system. “This is the beginning of the road to a constitutional monarchy,” prominent opposition MP Mussallam al-Barrak told protesters. “We call on the authorities to issue a new decree to dissolve the 2009 parliament.”

Kuwait: Thousands Rally against Court Ruling Dissolving Opposition-led Parliament | International Business Times

Protesters have taken to the streets of Kuwait City to criticise a constitutional court ruling that declared parliamentary elections in February illegal and reinstated the previous parliament. The National Assembly elections saw the opposition dominate and replace a more pro-regime parliament. That election result was torpedoed by the court ruling, which protesters said followed opposition calls for a constitutional monarchy with a full parliamentary system. “This is the beginning of the road to a constitutional monarchy,” prominent opposition MP Mussallam al-Barrak told protesters. “We call on the authorities to issue a new decree to dissolve the 2009 parliament.”

Kuwait: Cabinet resigns amid political crisis | Al Jazeera

Kuwait’s cabinet has resigned after protesters and opposition deputies demanded that the prime minister step down over allegations of corruption, state-run television has reported. “The prime minister [Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah] has submitted his resignation to the emir,” Kuwait TV said, without specifying whether it had been accepted. Earlier, opposition member Khaled al-Sultan said the cabinets’s resignation was accepted amid a bitter political dispute between the prime minister and opposition MPs. “We are waiting for the appointment of a new prime minister before parliament is dissolved in order to be assured of fair elections,” the Sultan told reporters outside parliament. Parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi said he had not been informed about a dissolution of parliament.

Kuwait: More than half Kuwait’s parliament resigns in protest over election annulment | Reuters

More than half of Kuwait’s members of parliament have resigned in protest at a court’s decision to annul an election that had given the Islamist-led opposition a majority. The resignations deepen the political crisis in the major oil exporter which has so far avoided the widespread dissent that has ousted heads of state in some other Arab countries. Wednesday’s ruling effectively dissolved the parliament elected in February and reinstated its predecessor, but the resignations by many lawmakers who were in the previous parliament deprives the 50-seat assembly of more than half its members, making it difficult to function. The number of resigning lawmakers had risen by Thursday to at least 26, parliamentary sources said. “It does us no honour to be part of the 2009 assembly which was brought down by the nation,” said Jamaan al-Harbish after Wednesday’s ruling, speaking on behalf of several lawmakers. “We thus tender our resignations,” he added.

Kuwait: Veteran politician says negative phenomena impacted Kuwait election outcome | gulfnews

A veteran Kuwaiti politician has blamed the emergence of sectarianism as an important factor to be elected to parliament. “The emergence of chaos and of negative phenomena, including the sectarian dimension, has enabled people to reach the parliament,” Ahmad Al Khatib, the deputy chairman of the 1962 constituent assembly that drafted the constitution, said. “ The emergence of chaos and of negative phenomena, including the sectarian dimension, has enabled people to reach the parliament ”

Kuwait: Islamist-led opposition wins majority | Al Jazeera

Kuwait’s Islamist-led opposition has won a landslide majority in snap polls, securing 34 seats in the 50-member parliament, officials results showed. The snap polls were held after the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state dissolved parliament following youth-led protests in December over alleged corruption and bitter disputes between opposition MPs and the government. Sunni Islamists took 23 seats compared with just nine in the dissolved parliament, while liberals were the big losers, winning only two places against five previously. No women were elected, with the four female MPs of the previous parliament all losing their seats.

Kuwait: Islamists favourites as Kuwaitis vote | The Daily Star

Kuwaitis were casting ballots Thursday in a snap vote to elect the fourth parliament in less than six years, with unofficial polls showing the Islamist-led opposition in the lead. The vote in the wealthy Gulf state, which follows a campaign marred by violence, seeks to end political disputes that have hurt the country for years. Female voters, dressed in clothes ranging from black traditional abayas to casual Western-style jeans, lined up in short queues in voting stations set up for women, as lines of men formed at separate polling booths. Women voters make up 54 percent of the electorate and 23 women are among 286 candidates running for the 50-seat legislative body.

Kuwait: Kuwait parliament election test for growing array of opposition groups | The Washington Post

Kuwait is heading into elections in much the same combative style that gripped the last parliament: Opposition groups pressing for even a bigger voice against the nation’s Western-allied rulers and domestic tensions running so high that one group torched the campaign tent of a rival. Thursday’s voting for the 50-seat assembly — one of the most outspoken elected bodies in the Gulf — will test how much Kuwait’s ruling family and its backers can hold back a growing array of challengers, including hard-line Islamists and young liberals inspired by the Arab Spring. An expected strong showing by opposition groups also could bring major distractions for Kuwait’s leadership as the nation regains its role as the main base for American ground troops in the Gulf following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq last year.

Kuwait: Warning against election malpractices | Kuwait Times

His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, the Prime Minister, asserted here yesterday that “the government will not turn a blind eye on the phenomenon of vote buying during elections.” HH the Prime Minister thanked, after his tour of the Media Center for National Assembly elections 2012, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah for involving the Kuwait Transparency Society in monitoring the elections for the first time, stressing that “the government cannot accept any sort of disturbance of the electoral process”.

Kuwait: Elections offer slim chance for reform | Reuters

Kuwait is preparing to vote for its fourth parliament in six years in an election unlikely to resolve a relentless tug-of-war in the Gulf Arab nation that has paralysed politics and held up reform. It is hard to predict who will “win” the vote, particularly since formal political parties are banned, but one thing analysts agree on is that the new parliament is likely to be just as divided and obstreperous, if not more so, than the last. “It doesn’t really matter who wins and who loses,” said political commentator Ghanem al-Najjar. “What’s important is how we move on from there.”

Kuwait: Suspicious deal between candidates under probe | Kuwait Times

The Cabinet yesterday decided to refer to the public prosecution a suspicious multimillion-dinar deal involving the sale of stocks of an unlisted company between two candidates running in the National Assembly polls. After hearing a report on the deal by Minister of Commerce and Industry Amani Buresli, the Cabinet decided to refer the suspected money laundering deal for a legal probe, an official statement said. The Cabinet also decided to hear another detailed report on the issue next week.

A local newspaper reported a few days ago that the value of the deal was around KD 15 million paid to one of the two candidates who is also an ex-MP and has been involved in the corruption scandal involving 12 other former lawmakers. The report said that the value of the company whose shares were sold did not exceed KD 1 million at best but was still sold for KD 15 million, raising suspicions that it was a case of money laundering or corruption. Local electronic media also reported that the candidate who received the money has decided to delay launching his election media campaign because he believes he will not be allowed to contest the parliamentary elections.

Kuwait: Government moves to set up election commission in Kuwait | Kuwait Times

In a surprising move, the Cabinet yesterday reviewed two key election reform draft laws presented by Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, one of them calling for the establishment of an independent election commission. The second bill calls for setting up of an independent national committee for supervising election campaigns in a bid to ensure equal and fair opportunities to all candidates contesting the polls.

The two draft laws were then referred to the Cabinet’s legal committee to study its details before they come back to the Cabinet for final approval, according to a statement issued following the Cabinet’s weekly meeting. The two draft laws will not be issued immediately as they will be referred to the next National Assembly which will be elected on Feb 2. The establishment of an independent election commission has been among the main demands by the opposition to reform the election process which has been under the supervision of the interior ministry since 1962 when Kuwait began adopting the parliamentary system.

Kuwait: Interior Minister forms teams to fight vote-buying | Kuwait Times

The interior minister yesterday made an unprecedented decision by forming special teams with the participation of members of non-governmental organizations to combat vote-buying ahead of the forthcoming general elections. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, who is also defense minister, formed five teams, one in each electoral constituency, consisting of the head of the police station in the concerned areas in addition to members from the Kuwait Transparency Society, Kuwait Lawyers Association and Kuw
ait Journalists Association.

The decision comes amid allegations of rampant vote-buying in all the constituencies and accusations that “political money” was being used in a massive way to influence the outcome of the Feb 2 elections. The move comes a day after Kuwait Transparency Society announced a reward of KD 5,000 for those who inform about any vote-buying case in all the constituencies, and urged the government to sponsor the idea. Head of the society Salah Al-Ghazali said the money was donated by a private person and called on t
he government to take a similar measure in order to curb vote-buying. Hours after their formation, assistant undersecretary for public security Maj Gen Mahmoud Al-Dossari chaired a meeting of the teams which discussed ways and means to apply the law and prevent irregularities during the elections.

Kuwait: Emir dissolves parliament, calls for election | Reuters

Kuwait’s ruler dissolved parliament on Tuesday and called for an election, state media said. The government was forced to resign last month in one of the deepest political crises in the oil-exporting state and the emir said this crisis was threatening the country’s interests.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah gave no date for the election but under the constitution it must be held within 60 days of parliament’s dissolution. The emir said in a decree read out on state television that the decision to dissolve parliament came after it became difficult to achieve progress. “This required going back to the nation to choose its representatives in order to overcome present difficulties,” the decree said.