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Election silence imposed online in Kuwait as voters go to polls

The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior issued a notice to electronic media in Kuwait forbidding all interviews and reports of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary polls on the day of the election, Saturday, December 5 or the day before that, Friday.

The ‘Elections Silence’ memo requires the implementation of election silence on the “publication, republication or publishing of any interviews or programs of 2020 National Assembly candidates on the day of the election or the day that proceeds it.” The memo, sent to all media in Kuwait on Thursday, was signed by Lafi Al-Subaie, Director of Electronic Publications. Tomorrow, 395 candidates, including 33 women, will stand for election in the nation’s parliamentary polls. A total of 567,694 registered voters, according to Al-Jarida newspaper, are eligible to vote.

Meanwhile, the court of cassation yesterday issued a ruling allowing 13 candidates to run in Saturday’s general polls as candidates stepped up campaigning to lure voters. With less than two days left for the polls, the top court, whose rulings are final, confirmed the court of appeals’ verdict that the candidates are allowed to contest the polls. An interior ministry commission last month disqualified 34 candidates for political and financial reasons.

Candidates have stepped up their campaigns, mostly through social media and television interviews, but some in tribal areas held rallies and dinner banquets that attracted hundreds of potential voters despite a total ban by authorities on election rallies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

At a public rally in Farwaniya, a former MP, running from the fourth constituency, said if he gets elected, he will contest the post of the assembly speaker. Another former MP running from the first constituency called for drastically changing the cybercrimes law which he says poses a real danger to the society. The law stipulates tough penalties on violators.

The candidate also vowed that “the pocket of citizens is a red line and we will not allow the government to impose taxes or charges on public services, even if that led to dissolving the national assembly.” A new candidate contesting from the third constituency, criticized the lack of transparency on the country’s finances, saying that details about Kuwait’s wealth and investments are scarce.

Another former MP, bidding for a comeback from the first constituency, said there can be no real, serious and effective reforms in the presence of rampant corruption in the country. A new Islamist candidate said that the Anti-Corruption Authority will not succeed under the current circumstances in the country because key parameters are lacking.

He said the Authority lacks real independence and it is under the supervision of the government and that prevents its independence. The Authority also lacks a real power for accountability and the way the Authority functions prevents popular participation.

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