KUWAIT: Outgoing National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem files his candidacy at the election department yesterday. - KUNA

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Thirty-two candidates including three women registered yesterday to contest the Dec 5 National Assembly elections, raising the total number of candidates with just two days left for registration to 333, including 28 women. Marzouq Al-Ghanem, who has been the speaker of the house since 2013, yesterday filed his nomination papers from the second constituency, and will certainly bid to retain his top post.

Other MPs who registered yesterday were Omar Al-Tabtabaei from the second electoral district, Abdullah Al-Kandari from the third constituency and Faraj Al-Arbeed from the fourth constituency. Registration of candidates closes on Nov 4, while withdrawals will continue until seven days before election day. Only one candidate has withdrawn so far.

The ministry of interior has banned election gatherings and erecting tents by candidates because of the coronavirus pandemic as the country continues to record a high number of new cases. Candidate Mubarak Al-Arw, a lawyer contesting the polls for the first time, said if elected, he will push for the Assembly to approve the controversial law challenging judges. He said he will file proposals to amend the election system and the law governing the Audit Bureau. These laws will boost the Assembly's supervisory role, he said.

An interior ministry committee is currently reviewing the credentials of candidates to establish if they fulfill the requirements of the law. The committee has the right to bar candidates from fighting the polls, while candidates can challenge such decisions in court.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Barrak Al-Sheetan yesterday appointed new senior ministry officials after the ministry undersecretary and five other officials resigned last week. Aseel Al-Saad Al-Munifi was given the role of undersecretary alongside her current position as assistant undersecretary for budgetary affairs, a statement on the ministry's Twitter account said.

The six ministry employees wrote in a letter on Wednesday they were resigning in protest at a staff reshuffle at the ministry this year and policy differences. The finance minister accepted the resignations.