The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Candidates for the Dec 5 National Assembly elections are using social media and television interviews to reach out to voters after authorities banned election campaigns because of the coronavirus pandemic. Candidate Jazza Al-Qahs from the fourth constituency said if he gets elected, he will file a draft law calling to allow dual citizenship in the country, currently banned by law.

Qahs said that hundreds of thousands of Kuwaitis hold citizenship of European countries, the United States, Gulf states and others, effectively violating the law. He said that certain quarters in the society have been using the issue to spread racial divisions within the society, especially about those holding Gulf citizenships.

Former MP Hussein Mazyed, bidding to return to the house after a long absence, accused Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh of failing to curb rampant vote buying. He said that it appears that vote-buying practices are bigger than the interior minister, who has failed to issue the necessary decisions to curb the violation. He urged the prime minister to intervene.

New candidate Hamad Al-Munawer, also from the fourth constituency, said if he is elected to the Assembly, he will immediately file a draft law calling on the government to forgive consumer loans of Kuwaiti citizens. Candidate Sheikha Al-Jassem, contesting from the third constituency, called for changing the current voting system based on a single vote, saying this system has drastically harmed women's chances to win seats in the Assembly.

Former MP Hassan Jowhar, a leading opposition figure who ended his boycott of elections since 2012 and is running in the first constituency, blasted the government for ignoring the decades-old housing problem. He said just KD 1.5 billion is needed to provide necessary housing for 250,000 citizens, but instead of providing this amount, the government offered to pay KD 3 billion to big merchants in compensation for coronavirus-related losses.

Meanwhile, the appeals court will hear tomorrow cases of a number of candidates who were disqualified by an interior ministry commission for being convicted in court over financial and criminal cases. The lower court on Thursday confirmed the disqualification of seven candidates but cancelled the decision for eight others, prompting the candidates and the government's legal department to appeal.

The fatwa and legislation department, which represents the government in court, yesterday filed petitions against the lower court's ruling to rehabilitate eight candidates, while the other candidates appealed the rulings against them. The cases must be completed with final rulings before the general elections on Dec 5. The interior ministry commission had disqualified 34 candidates, many of them over financial cases, but at least two of them - former MP Bader Al-Dahoum and activist Ahmad Al-Fiker - were disqualified on political grounds.