Bader Al-Dahoum

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The appeals court yesterday overturned a ruling by the lower court to allow former Islamist opposition MP Bader Al-Dahoum to contest next month’s general polls, but the verdict was immediately challenged by the government. The court also confirmed rulings in favor of three other candidates who were allowed to run after an interior ministry commission had disqualified them on the grounds of previous court verdicts.

The court also confirmed the disqualification of five candidates, in addition to a sixth candidate Khaled Al-Mutairi, who was allowed by the lower court but barred by the appeals court. On Tuesday, the appeals court confirmed the disqualification of six candidates and allowed female candidate Nadia Al-Othman to run in the polls.

The government and some candidates immediately challenged the rulings to the court of cassation, the country’s highest court, whose rulings are final. The final verdicts must be issued before the end of next week ahead of the Dec 5 elections.

Meanwhile, Masarat, a local pollster and research center, projected that around 13 Islamist candidates will win seats in the 50-seat National Assembly, four seats more than they held in the outgoing Assembly. Masarat said its projections were based on surveys conducted with voters. It said that it expects Islamists to win two seats each in the first and second constituencies and three seats each in the third, fourth and fifth constituencies. The pollster did not count the supporters of Islamists, who are expected to win more seats.

Candidates urged in their virtual campaigns for a quick solution to the decades-old housing problem, saying Kuwaiti families have to wait for as long as 20 years to get a house. New candidate Hamad Al-Munawer said Kuwaiti couples pay between KD 50,000 and KD 70,000 in rent during this long waiting period, which greatly benefits real estate merchants.

Munawer said the government must build five new cities to accommodate the large number of couples on the waiting list, and raise housing allowance to KD 400 per month. The candidate said if the government accelerates its construction plan, Kuwaitis could get their houses within a year. New candidate Hamad Rouh Eldin charged that the housing problem is manipulated and the “government deliberately increases the size of the problem” to serve vested interests, pointing out that 90 percent of land in Kuwait is owned by the state.