By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Kuwaitis voted back an overwhelming majority of the 50 members of the court-nullified 2022 National Assembly, according to official results announced early Wednesday, hoping the new Assembly will cooperate with the government to take the country out of non-stop crises. The government of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah submitted its resignation as required by the constitution and HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah accepted it, asking the Cabinet to continue as a caretaker government.
Before its resignation, the government approved an Amiri decree calling on the new National Assembly to hold its inaugural session on June 20, as the Kuwaiti constitution requires the Assembly to meet within two weeks of announcing the results. HH the Amir is expected to ask HH Sheikh Ahmad to form a new Cabinet, or appoint a new figure to lead the new government. HH the Amir congratulated the incoming deputies and called on them to “carry the responsibility of representing the people and… realize their aspiration for a better future,” according to KUNA.
As many as 38 members of the scrapped Assembly were re-elected, three did not contest and nine lost their seats, in a massive popular mandate to the 2022 Assembly which was annulled by the constitutional court in March. Nationalists scored big and increased their numbers. Another major result was the election of former three-time Assembly speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem, who stormed back in style, scoring first position in the second constituency. Ghanem, who was speaker between 2013 and 2022, opted not to contest the Sept 2022 elections.
“My priorities in the next Assembly are achieving reforms, development, stability and cooperation,” Ghanem told jubilant supporters who carried him aloft amid loud slogans. The new National Assembly is now controlled in a massive way by those who are calling themselves “reformists”, with around 40 seats in the 50-member house. “With the will of the nation, we have come back stronger than before. We will continue with political reforms and improve the standard of living of citizens,” MP Osama Al-Zaid said after he was declared a winner.
“Now, the reformist majority is bigger than it was in 2022 … the Kuwaiti people have elected the road to reforms,” said MP Adel Al-Damkhi, advising the prime minister to select his Cabinet based on the outcome of the election. Only 12 MPs were changed in the new Assembly compared to the 2022 house. The 12 MPs who replaced them include Ghanem and former MP Mohammed Hayef and 10 new faces, mostly in the second and fourth constituencies. The number of women members were reduced to just one, Jenan Bushehri, from two in September, after Alia Al-Khaled lost.
Bushehri said she expected the Assembly “to seek stability and move ahead on outstanding issues, whether political or economic”. The main losers include Saleh Ashour, Khalil Al-Saleh, Thamer Al-Suwait, Marzouq Al-Khalifa and Saifi Al-Saifi. They also included former MP Obaid Al-Wasmi, in addition to Faisal Al-Kandari. Main winners among newcomers include Dawood Marafie, Fahad Al-Masoud and Jarrah Al-Fouzan. They also include Bader Al-Shemmari, Meteb Al-Enezi, Bader Al-Enezi and Hamad Al-Alyan. Former three-time speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun won a seat, but came in second position in the third constituency.
“This election has demonstrated the ability of Kuwaiti voters to choose, and even punish those (politicians) deemed working against their interests or national interests,” Kuwaiti political analyst Abdullah Al-Shayeji wrote on Twitter. Former minister and political analyst Saad Al-Ajmi said the election has seen the victory of an overwhelming majority of the so-called opposition. Now, this opposition is no longer opposing the government and its head HH Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf, but has expressed readiness to cooperate with the next government to speed up reforms and projects.
MP Hamdan Al-Azemi said the prime minister must read the outcome of the elections while forming his government. “The Kuwaiti people have issued its verdict and voted nationalist MPs to the Assembly,” said MP Muhalhal Al-Mudhaf. “We hope they will be able to achieve the aspirations of the people” he said. “This is a clear message that the Kuwaiti people are eager for reforms,” said MP Fares Al-Otaibi.
This was the third election since Dec 2020 and the seventh since 2012. Scores of voters expressed frustration and called for an end to political disputes that have rocked the country since 2006. “The government has to contend with a more combative parliament than the already combative 2022 version,” said Bader Al-Saif, assistant history professor at Kuwait University. “Therefore, expect bumps in the road unless radical reforms unfold,” he said.