Candidates claim Kuwait held “hostage” by corrupt forces

The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Candidates fighting for parliamentary seats in next month’s general polls yesterday blasted what they called government failure to fight corruption, claiming the country has been taken hostage by corruption forces. “Kuwait has been taken hostage by those sponsoring corruption, by people with vested interests and by those who lack patriotism,” former minister Bader Al-Humaidi, contesting in the second constituency, said.

Opposition MP Shuwaib Al-Muwaizri, bidding for re-election from the fourth constituency, said the government is incapable of fighting against corruption and dealing with crises, adding that the previous national assembly has excluded legislation for fighting corruption. This has resulted in an increase in corruption indicators in the country.

MP Adel Al-Damkhi went a step further. He said Kuwait has been facing an ever developing and ever increasing corruption that has many shapes and forms. Damkhi, trying to retain his seat in the first constituency, charged that the corruption system has penetrated all authorities in the country and is responsible for major bureaucratic appointments. They control the media and have great influence and are behind an open war against reformers in the country, he said.

Former MP Hasan Jowhar charged that ministers who earnestly fought against corruption have been dismissed. He said former health minister Jamal Al-Harbi did not last for long in his post because he fought against forces of corruption in his ministry.

The same thing happened to former housing minister Yasser Abul who was dismissed for cracking down on corruption. Jowhar has ended an eight-year boycott to election and decided to contest from the first constituency. Former MP Khaled Al-Shulaimi charged that the government is sponsoring vote buying by certain candidates since the practice is being done in the open. New candidate Marwan Al-Fagan from the first constituency blamed squandering of public funds and corruption for part of the lingering budget deficit in Kuwait.

He said that in the five fiscal years from 2014/15 to 2018/19, Kuwait incurred a budget deficit of KD 22.5 billion, adding that if the expected shortfalls for this year and next are added, the total deficit will exceed KD 40 billion. In the meantime, the Kuwait Progressive Movement called on the government yesterday to include changing the voting system in its proposed amendments to the election law. The Movement insisted that the main problem with the Kuwaiti elections is the single-vote system which must be changed.

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