Last updated: 20 June, 2013

Kuwait sets parliamentary polls for July 25, says cabinet

Kuwait’s cabinet said on Thursday that it has approved a decree setting a legislative election for July 25 after the constitutional court scrapped parliament and upheld a controversial electoral law.

“The cabinet at an extraordinary session approved a draft decree setting July 25 as the date for parliamentary elections,” State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah al-Sabah told the official KUNA news agency.

The decree will be issued later by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Sheikh Mohammad said the cabinet asked its legal team to prepare all the necessary work to complete the implementation of the constitutional court verdict.

The court on Sunday scrapped the 50-seat parliament elected on December 1 amid a total boycott by the opposition in protest against an amendment to the electoral law that was confirmed by the court, whose rulings are final.

The ruling paved the way for Kuwait’s second parliamentary election in eight months, and its third since February 2012.

The oil-rich Gulf state has been rocked by a series of political crises since early 2006 between MPs and the government.

The emir is also expected to issue another decree next week dissolving the pro-government parliament in accordance with the court order. Since May 2006, parliament has been dissolved six times either because of political disputes or by court order.

July’s election will be the sixth legislative polls since June 2006 in a turbulent political era that has also seen the cabinet resign about a dozen times.

Islamist, nationalist and most liberal opposition groups have said they will boycott the election but the main liberal opposition group the National Democratic Alliance, which boycotted December polls, said it will take part.

The constitutional court’s decision to uphold the electoral law amendment, ordered by the emir in October, sparked a legal battle between supporters and opponents of the decision.

Opposition groups have claimed the ruling will encourage autocratic rule in the emirate which became a democratic pioneer in the Gulf by electing a parliament as early as 1962.

The electoral law passed in 2006 allowed each eligible voter to choose a maximum of four candidates. The amendment reduced the number to just one. Under its electoral system, Kuwait is divided into five districts with each electing as many as 10 MPs.

Opposition groups had claimed the electoral law amendment enabled the government to manipulate election results and subsequent legislation.

Kuwaiti citizens make up just 1.2 million of the emirate’s 3.8 million population. The OPEC member pumps 3.0 million barrels of oil per day.