Cabinet to meet to decide on ideal date for elections – Debate rages over constitutional court ruling

Kuwait Times
Fecha de publicación: 
20 Jun 2013

The Cabinet is expected to hold an extraordinary session today to discuss an ideal date for the parliamentary election following the constitutional court’s ruling that scrapped the National Assembly as the debate over the verdict continues among various political groups. The Cabinet may announce the election date today after approving a decree to dissolve the Assembly or postpone a final decision until the beginning of next week. Observers believe that the most likely scenario is to hold polls during the holy month of Ramadan that will start on July 9 and specifically in the last third of the month.

Under Kuwaiti law, the polls must be held within two months after dissolving the Assembly and this deadline is mid-August, which is just one week after Ramadan-end and only about three days after the Eid Al-Fitr feast. A large number of Kuwaiti voters are expected to have already booked their trips for the summer vacation immediately after Ramadan, which if coupled with a major boycott of the election, would make the voter turnout very small.

In addition, the new Assembly must meet within two weeks after the election, giving authorities another problem to think about. On top of that, a number of constitutional experts have raised yet a new legal problem they warned that could lead to dissolving the next Assembly. Under Kuwaiti law, at least one Cabinet member must be an elected MP – who is minister of social affairs and labour Thekra Al-Rasheedi in this Cabinet. But Rasheedi is no longer an MP after the constitutional court ruling which makes the current Cabinet unconstitutional.

A member of the scrapped 2012 Assembly Mohammad Al-Dallal said the next Assembly is already at risk of being dissolved because the government is unconstitutional since it does not have an elected MP. This problem in addition to the problem of finding a proper date may force the government not to announce an election date until the 60-day period passes off and this will automatically revive the 2009 Assembly and the election date can be postponed further.

Meanwhile, several members of the Salaf Islamic Alliance criticized the alliance leadership for announcing that they will take part in the election without consulting other members. Former Salafist MP Mohammad Al-Kandari described the move as an act of “hijacking” the group and insisted that the alliance’s decision should not have been affected by the constitutional court ruling that lacks strong evidence and should not have been impacted by the position of opportunists who only want to serve their selfish interests.

So far, only the liberal National Democratic Alliance and the Salaf alliance have announced their participation in the election, but the majority of former opposition MPs and almost all opposition groups have said they are boycotting. The liberal Kuwait Democratic Forum has not yet announced a decision but its leading member and former MP Saleh Al-Mulla said he will not contest because he believes the single-vote decree promotes autocracy in the country.