Kuwaiti court deals blow to government over elections law

27 September 2012

Opposition calls for dissolution of current parliament and new elections

Kuwait’s constitutional court has rejected a petition by the government against the country’s electoral constituency law.

The government’s petition concerned two articles in the constituency law, passed in 2006. The first slashed the number of electoral constituencies from 25 to five, while the second allows voters to elect a maximum of four candidates in their districts, down from 10 previously. The government argued these were in breach of the constitution, as the number of voters in each constituency varies.

Nonetheless, the petition was rejected and the law will therefore stay in place as the basis for Kuwait’s planned elections.

The ruling by constitutional court judge Faisal al-Mershed was welcomed by dozens of opposition activists and members of parliament (MPs), amid tight security, according to the local Kuwait Times newspaper. The verdict came just a day after an estimated 10,000 opposition activists protested against the government opposite the National Assembly building.

The ruling is a blow to the embattled Kuwaiti government. Opposition MPs called on the government to immediately dissolve the 2009 Assembly. Thousands of Kuwaitis staged demonstrations in June protesting against the original constitutional court ruling, which annulled the country’s February election results and reinstated the previously body, elected in 2009. 

The court ruled on 21 June that the February elections were illegal, dissolving parliament and reinstating the body elected in 2009, which had been previously dissolved by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah in December 2011. Calls for constitutional reform have increased.

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