'Prominent opposition figures throw hats into ring'

Abdulhameed Dashti Abdulhameed Dashti

KUWAIT: The administrative court yesterday rejected a government objection to its ruling to allow former Shiite MP Abdulhameed Dashti to file his nomination papers despite living outside the country for the past seven months. Dashti's elder son Talal immediately went to the election department and registered his father as a candidate for next month's election from the first constituency.

But Dashti still has to wait the appeal filed by the government against the ruling for which the appeals court has set November 1 to start the hearing. The court had based its ruling on a medical certificate stating that Dashti was receiving treatment in Britain and that doctors advised him not to fly back home.

Dashti, who has been outside Kuwait since March, has received jail terms totaling 31 years and six months for insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in several cases. He still faces a dozen more cases.

The public prosecution has already issued an arrest warrant against him which means that he will be immediately arrested upon arrival to the country. At least five leading opposition figures and several veteran former MPs were among 55 new candidates who filed nominations yesterday to contest the November 26 early polls.

That raises the number of hopefuls to 412 hopefuls with just one day left for registration. The candidates include more than 40 members of the dissolved house and over 30 former MPs from previous assemblies of whom around 30 are prominent opposition figures.

Opposition figures who signed yesterday included former MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash, Mubarak Al-Waalan, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, Hamd Al-Matar and Salem Al-Namlan. Harbash, a leading member of the Islamic Constitutional Movement, defended the participation of the opposition in the election after boycotting it for four years in protest against the change in the voting system.

He said that the situations in the country have deteriorated and staying home is no longer the correct decision for the opposition. Harbash however strongly criticized the single-vote system saying it has harmed Kuwait and promoted tribal primary election and sectarianism.

Namlan said that the participation of the opposition has become a necessity because of the deteriorating political situation and after it was proven that the opposition was not the cause of political crises in the country.  Waalan said that the opposition should take part in order to stop the government from revoking the citizenship of people without any evidence beside other key issues.

Meanwhile, former Islamist opposition lawmaker Waleed Al-Tabtabai released what he called the election manifesto for the opposition which includes several important issues.

He said the opposition will work to scrap the single-vote system and restore citizenships for Kuwaitis taken away from them by the government. He said the opposition will also work to stop politically-motivated arrests and detentions, scrapping the controversial DNA testing law and revise the controversial electronic publication law.

Tabtabai said the opposition will work to prevent the government from raising charges or prices of services and commodities without a law and this will include the prices of petrol.

By B Izzak