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Election body gets final nod

MPs study Kuwait’s financial status, refer report to Audit Bureau

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The National Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved in the second and final reading a law to establish a high election commission and allow people convicted of offending HH the Amir from running in polls after rehabilitation. The Assembly also discussed in a secret session the financial status of the country during which they heard a presentation by the acting finance minister on the public finances.

Speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun said after the closed-door discussion that it was decided that the financial status report will be sent to the Audit Bureau for study and it will submit its report back to the Assembly within three months. He provided no details on the discussion. The presentation normally includes figures on Kuwaiti investments abroad and assets in the country’s sovereign wealth fund, or the fund for future generations and the state general reserve fund. Fifty-nine members, including all attending Cabinet ministers, voted for the election commission law, while just three lawmakers, protesting against some specific clauses, rejected the legislation.

“Today, we can officially say political execution has ended in the country,” MP Khaled Al-Otaibi, head of the interior and defense committee which reviewed the law, said after the vote. He described the law as one of the most important political reform legislation. The law requires those convicted of committing offenses against the Almighty and prophets to repent to be able to run for public office. Those convicted of offending HH the Amir will be allowed to contest polls after they have been rehabilitated under the law.

A large number of former opposition MPs and political activists, who had been barred for life from contesting polls under a controversial law passed in 2016, stand to benefit from the new legislation, which becomes effective after publication in the official gazette. The Assembly however included a condition stating that women and men wishing to contest the polls must abide by sharia rules despite protests by a few lawmakers, who said the clause is discriminatory. MPs Marzouq Al-Ghanem and Jenan Bushehri submitted separate proposals to get the clause deleted, but the Assembly refused.

Writer Ahmad Al-Sarraf claimed on Twitter, now known as X, that the clause bans women without hijab and non-Muslims from contesting the polls. MPs also rejected a proposal stating that lawmakers can serve for up to eight years only. They also rejected proposals to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years. Under the law, the election commission will consist of five senior judges instead of seven approved in the first reading, who will be appointed by an Amiri decree.

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