By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The government on Wednesday approved an Amiri decree setting June 6 as the date for fresh parliamentary elections, after HH the Amir dissolved the National Assembly two days ago. At an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, the government also announced election day as a public holiday to allow the largest number of voters to cast their votes.
HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who has been delegated some of HH the Amir’s powers, is expected to issue the decree, which becomes effective immediately after its publication in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm. The government’s decision to set the election date sooner than later appears to be an attempt to ensure a large turnout for the election before citizens embark on the annual summer exodus to escape the scorching heat, when temperatures soar up to 50 degrees Celsius.
The number of eligible voters for the Sept 22 polls was just under 800,000. The interior ministry updated voter lists in February, but no official figures have been released yet. Under Kuwait’s election law, registration of candidates begins a day after the publication of the Amiri decree setting the election date. Local media quoted unnamed official sources as saying that the decree is expected to be published on Thursday, which means that the registration of candidates will start on Friday.
The government has set up a ministerial committee headed by Interior Minister Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah that includes members from all ministries concerned with the polls. Registration of candidates will continue for 10 days. Withdrawal of candidates starts the same day but continues until seven days before the election date.
HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah dissolved the 2020 National Assembly in August last year over prolonged disputes between the government and MPs. Kuwaiti citizens elected on Sept 29 an Assembly dominated by the opposition. But the entire election process was annulled by the constitutional court on March 19 because the Amiri decree inviting people to vote was found to be violating the constitution. The court also scrapped the 2022 Assembly and reinstated the 2020 house.
HH the Amir again dissolved the reinstated 2020 Assembly on Monday, setting the stage for fresh polls. Scores of former MPs led by speaker of the 2020 National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanem have announced they will run in the polls. So far, about 50 former MPs and former members of the annulled 2022 Assembly have said they are running.
Local media and experts have predicted the upcoming elections to be the most decisive in Kuwait’s 60-year parliamentary democracy, as Kuwaiti citizens appear to be increasingly frustrated with non-stop political wrangling that has almost brought economic development in the country to a standstill.