Kuwaiti Opposition Holds Ground in Election Boycott

Article Summary
Kuwaiti opposition groups have affirmed their decision to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Kuwaiti opposition renewed its commitment to boycott the National Assembly (parliament) elections, unless the decree issued months ago by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad amending Election Law 9 were canceled.

The opposition confirmed its decision to boycott following its meeting on Sunday night [June 16]. Hours after that meeting, the Constitutional Court rendered its decision considering the decree to be valid and in force.

On the other hand, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the main umbrella of liberal groups, announced in a statement issued yesterday [June 17] that it would take part in the forthcoming elections in the middle of August “to work on adopting better electoral regulation” through parliament.

The opposition's decision coincided with a speech delivered by the emir to the Kuwaiti people, urging them to respect the court's decision and abide by it. It is worth mentioning that the Constitutional Court also decided to dissolve parliament for lack of legitimacy, paving the way for the election of a new parliament within 60 days.

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Moreover, 24 former opposition deputies attended the opposition meeting held in the office of former parliament speaker Ahmad al-Saadoun and discussed the implications of the Constitutional Court’s decision. Following the meeting, the opposition expressed its reservations about the court's decision to uphold the electoral law and asserted that it would continue boycotting any electoral process held under said law.

Saadoun said, “Today, the Kuwaiti constitution was annulled, which indicates that the regime does not believe in it,” stating that “if boycotting the election was necessary before, it is even more necessary during the coming period.” Furthermore, the opposition had entrusted eight former deputies and activists to draft a scenario for addressing the future political stage.

However, the opposition faces the Kuwaiti street’s restlessness due to the lack of a true representation in the National Assembly for more than a year. From the date on which the Constitutional Court dissolved the opposition-majority parliament in June 2012, until December of the same year, Kuwait remained without a parliament. Following this vacuum period, elections were held under the law amended by virtue of a decree issued in September and boycotted by the opposition for the same reason.

It is worth mentioning that most Kuwaitis supported the decision to boycott elections, which reduced voter turnout to about 27%, according to the opposition’s estimate.

Although the public had hoped that the Constitutional Court would cancel the decree, the dissolution of the last assembly was great news. Immediately following the issuance of the court's decision yesterday, heated discussions and feuds broke out on social networking sites between supporters and opponents regarding participation in the upcoming elections.

Among the supporters, political analyst Abdullah al-Nafisi believes that the regional circumstances and confrontation with Iran require restoring stability to Kuwait. In a comment on Twitter he said, “In politics, one must take two steps back in order to move one step forward.”

The opposition hawks fear that tribal voters will not enthusiastically respond to their call to boycott the elections. It is worth mentioning that tribal voters represent the greatest driving force for the opposition.

In this context, the emir had toured the tribes in the past few weeks and attended a number of tribal council meetings in an effort to solve the conflict and settle misunderstandings between the government and the tribes.

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