KUWAIT: The government said yesterday that a fact-finding ministerial committee found wide-scale electoral fraud of illegally transferring bulks of voters across constituencies, which helped to forge the will of Kuwaiti voters. To resolve this violation, the government on Wednesday approved an emergency decree requiring voters to vote in constituencies based on their residential addresses stated in their Civil IDs, which will be used for the first time ever.

The decree was issued by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and published in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm late Wednesday night and accordingly became effective.  The requirement to use only Civil IDs for voters to prove their place of residence is a major change in the Kuwaiti elections which in the past depended on electoral rolls prepared by the Interior Ministry and updated every year in February.

The use of electoral rolls had allegedly allowed candidates to illegally transfer the registration of thousands of voters from one district to another to dramatically boost their chances of winning a seat in the National Assembly. The Public Authority for Civil ID (PACI) will issue new electoral rolls based on the voters' addresses.

This measure will prevent corrupt candidates from moving voters from one constituency to another, depriving them from a means that could have boosted their chances to win seats in the Assembly. The explanatory note of the Amiri decree said that the fact finding committee, formed on July 5 and presented its report on August 13, conclusively found massive movements of voters by candidates to boost their chances of winning.

The explanatory note said that vote transfers amounted to vote rigging and fraud which resulted in the forgery of the will of the nation. The decree to change the way of voting was welcomed by many. Former National Assembly Speaker and prominent opposition figure Ahmad Al-Saadoun said the government has paved the way to allow the people to freely cast their votes in the process of reforms.

Former MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji said the measure will boost the integrity of elections, but he expressed concerns that it might spark a constitutional controversy. Two weeks ago, the National Assembly was dissolved by an Amiri decree which also called for holding snap elections to elect a new Assembly. The decree cited continued political disputes between the government and opposition MPs as the cause of dissolving the house.

In a televised speech delivered by HH the crown prince two months ago, the Amir vowed to prevent corruption in the forthcoming elections and pledged that the government will not interfere in the election of the Assembly Speaker. Adopting the Civil IDs for voters was one of the major demands by opposition MPs to ensure free and fair elections. No date has been yet decided for the snap polls but under Kuwait's constitution, the new elections must be held within two months of dissolving the Assembly, before October 1 in this case.

Tribal primaries

In the meantime, the Interior Ministry said yesterday that 10 people suspected of organizing and taking part in the outlawed tribal primaries were remanded for 21 days in jail pending the start of their trial. The people were arrested after organizing the tribal primaries which are banned under the law.

Dismissing expats

Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Rana Al-Fares yesterday revealed a one-year plan to dismiss all expat employees at Kuwait Municipality. She said the plan starts at the beginning of September when a third of the expat workforce will be served dismissal notices. The second phase begins on January 1 next year and the third on July 1, 2023. Children of Kuwaiti women and stateless people known as Bedoons are exempted from the plan.