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.
Many former opposition MPs and activists besides analysts have repeatedly called for taking the interior ministry’s and the government’s hands off the election process through creating the independent commission like most democratic countries. The other committee aims at ensuring that all candidates receive equal attention and media coverage and that media outlets are not allowed to manipulate campaigns and news against certain candidates or groups fighting the election.
In a related development, the criminal court yesterday ruled to close down local pro-government Scope satellite channel for three months, and sentenced its owner Fajer Al-Saeed, writer Nabeel Al-Fadel and two workers at the station for one year each but asked them to pay KD 1,000 each to suspend the implementation of the sentence until the appeals court has heard the case.
The ruling was issued over a lawsuit filed by Minister of the Amiri Diwan Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who complained that a program aired by the station contained derogatory remarks against him. The same court also sentenced former opposition MP Musallam Al-Barrak for six months in jail over remarks deemed insulting to former MP Rola Dashti. The sentence was also suspended against the payment of KD 1,000.
Full Article: Govt moves to set up election commission | Kuwait Times.