Last updated: 7 October, 2012

Kuwait ruler dissolves court-reinstated parliament

Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on Sunday issued a decree dissolving the 2009 parliament, just over three months since it was reinstated by the constitutional court, state media said.

Former opposition MPs welcomed the move but urged for another decree to set the date for snap general election and warned against amending the controversial electoral constituency law to influence the outcome of polls.

The dissolution of the assembly has been a main demand of the opposition and the action paves the way for snap polls for the second time this year and the fifth in just over six years in this Gulf state plagued by a chronic political crisis.

Parliament was dissolved for the sixth time since mid-2006 amid a political deadlock that has stalled development despite abundant cashflow due to high oil prices.

A second decree setting the date for new elections is expected to be issued soon.

“After the decree, Kuwait is before two paths,” said former prominent opposition MP Mussallam al-Barrak in a statement.

“The first is constitutional which is to call for fresh polls on the basis of the current constituency law while the second is carrying out a coup against the constitution by changing the law,” he said.

“A new decree must be issued to invite for the new election on the basis of the existing law,” former opposition MP Salem al-Namlan said on his Twitter account.

The opposition has repeatedly warned the government, led by the Al-Sabah ruling family, against changing the law through emiri decrees during the absence of parliament to influence election results.

Parts of the opposition have already pledged to boycott the election if the law is changed.

On September 25, the constitutional court ruled that the law was in line with the constitution, rejecting a challenge by the government clauses in the legislation.

The law, which divides the oil-rich Gulf state into five electoral districts, was passed by parliament in 2006 following popular rallies demanding reform of the electoral process.

The 2009 pro-government assembly was dissolved in December following protests amid allegations of corruption against some of its members and former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who also quit.

The Islamist-led opposition scored a massive victory in the February legislative polls but four months later the constitutional court nullified the election, scrapped parliament and reinstated the 2009 assembly.

Under Kuwait’s constitution, fresh general elections must be held within 60 days or before December 7. The forthcoming polls will be the second this year and the fifth since June 2006.

The reinstated parliament was boycotted by the opposition on the grounds that at least 13 pro-government MPs in the 50-member house faced allegations of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes.

OPEC member Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises since 2006 during which the government resigned nine times and parliament was dissolved on six occasions, five of them by the emir and one by court.