The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Candidates running in the Dec 5 general elections yesterday called for granting full independence to the judiciary and criticized what they called government interference in the National Assembly, as campaigning continues. Candidate Marzouq Al-Khalifa, contesting from the fourth constituency, said the independence of the judiciary is the guarantee for justice. He called on the next Assembly to approve a law to guarantee the independence of the judiciary, a second to allow challenging judges' verdicts and a third to Kuwaitize the judiciary.

MP Abdullah Fahhad, bidding for re-election from the same district, said attempts to politicize the judiciary must be totally rejected, adding that he backs the independence of the justice system. Other candidates claimed that the government has been strongly interfering in Assembly affairs, and in some cases setting its agenda and influencing its decisions.

MP Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei, running in the fifth constituency, said there are lawmakers who are under the government "umbrella and sponsorship", and as a result, "the government does what it wants whether it is right or wrong", and the victims are the Kuwaiti people. Candidate Khaled Al-Khamees from the third constituency said the government has been interfering in the Assembly, adding the Assembly is no more the house of the people and has become the house of the government.

He said that if the opposition forms a majority, the Assembly is dissolved and snap polls are called, adding that if the Assembly passes a law that the government dislikes, the Cabinet rejects the legislation. MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei, bidding for re-election from the second constituency, called for appointing a commoner prime minister to end the decades-old tradition of appointing the prime minister from the ruling family.

Candidates also called for national reconciliation and for pardoning a number of leading opposition figures who have been living abroad to escape jail sentences over political cases. Candidate Mutlaq Al-Otaibi, contesting in the fifth constituency, called for issuing a pardon for opposition politicians and allowing them to return, saying this should lead to national reconciliation and end disputes.

Candidate Abdulaziz Al-Samhan said national reconciliation is needed in the new era, adding that most Kuwaiti politicians living abroad have been convicted for minor cases, including over tweets. MP Adel Al-Damkhi, running in the first constituency, said he will continue demanding a general amnesty and national reconciliation in the next Assembly if elected. Candidates have resorted to virtual election campaigns this year because of the coronavirus pandemic as authorities have banned rallies. Other candidates are also using television and the press to publicize their agendas.