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Kuwait court returns all barred candidates to the race

Candidates see golden opportunity for major change

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The court of appeals Tuesday decided to bring back all candidates disqualified by the interior ministry to the election race and referred a highly controversial criminal law to the constitutional court for opinion. The court cancelled disqualification decisions on three candidates and suspended those decisions on five others until the constitutional court has ruled on the law, thus allowing all to run in the September 29 snap polls.

The government immediately challenged the decision before the court of cassation whose decisions are final. The appeals court on Monday also abolished the disqualification of former MP Khaled Al-Mutairi. The controversial law, first issued by 2013 parliament then amended by the 2016 parliament, stipulates barring convicted political dissidents for life from running for public office and is applied for old offenses. The law has been repeatedly criticized as oppressive and clearly violates the Kuwaiti constitution. Many candidates contesting the elections have called for the need to abolish the law by the next assembly, especially if a reformist majority wins seats in the assembly.

 

Worst Law

Candidate Ahmad Al-Saadoun, a leading opposition figure, Tuesday described the law as the “worst” of a number of oppressive legislation issued in the past 10 years. He said the law has no parallel even in the most repressive countries and must be abolished by the next assembly as soon as possible.

Saadoun and several other candidates launched their election campaigns at which they said they were optimistic the election will bring a major positive change in the country especially after key pledges made by HH the Amir. He said the current elections are extraordinary by all standards because of the pledges made by the Amiri in his June speech. The Amir pledged the government will not interfere in the polls nor in the election of the assembly speaker.

Saadoun said that all steps taken by the new government so far affirm the country’s leadership is adopting a new course, adding that the government has removed all the obstacles and it’s up to the Kuwaiti voters to choose the best, and expressed the hope that a reformist majority will win. “The Amiri speech has drawn a new roadmap” for the future” he said. “I declare my unlimited optimism for the future”.

Historical opportunity

“We are before a historical opportunity to strengthen the constitution, as all attempts to undermine it have failed” Saadoun said. New candidate Hamad Al-Mudlej, running in the first constituency, said Kuwait is coming out of a “dark decade” in which the state was hijacked and destructive legislation were issued. He said that Kuwait today stands at a dangerous crossroads, adding that he is optimistic the Kuwaiti people will not allow forces of corruption to take the country back to square one.

Mudlej said the next assembly will open all files of corruption and will start an era of accountability to all those who were involved in corruption. He said that an unholy alliance of merchants and previous governments had controlled the state and are still planning to come back.

 

Deep State

Former opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair said that during the dark decade, the “deep state” exploited state agencies to terrorize people, imprison them, dismiss them from jobs and revoke their citizenship. “Now, we are going to restart the wheels of development and construction … We have already hit the foundations of the deep state hard” and as a result, they are targeting all reformist candidates, Mutair said.

Former opposition MP Marzouk Al-Hubaini said that all are hoping that a reformist national assembly will be elected and will sail the country to the shores of safety. He said that the first people who should be held to account are the corrupt members of the National Assembly. “These elections are different from all previous polls. We are in a state of hope, in a state of restoring confidence” said Hubaini, adding that the Amiri speech has opened a new page in Kuwait’s political history which returned hope to the country.

Former MP Hasan Jowhar said that the root cause of lingering political disputes in Kuwait has been the violation of constitution by the government and others, adding that the Amiri speech was received by the people with joy similar to the joy of liberation from the Iraqi occupation in 1991. He said that Kuwait has $1 trillion of assets invested by investment funds, adding that if “we invest the returns of those investments for two to three years in key projects in the country, we will diversify sources of income” to reduce dependence on oil as the only source of income.

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