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Kuwait sets parliamentary elections for December 5

The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday approved an Amiri decree which sets new parliamentary elections for Dec 5. Registration of candidates contesting for the 50 seats will start the day after the decree is published in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm. Registration of candidates will continue for 10 days, according to the election law.

Withdrawal of candidates also starts from the first day of filing nomination papers and will continue until seven days before the election. The Cabinet announcement most likely means that the controversial single-vote voting system will continue despite a last-ditch effort by opposition MPs to change the system introduced by an Amiri decree in late 2012.

Under the current system, voters are allowed to vote for one only candidate in a constituency from where 10 MPs are elected. The previous system allowed voters to elect up to four candidates, favoring organized groups mostly from the opposition. Fourteen opposition MPs had signed a letter asking the Assembly to debate a draft law calling to change the voting system to allow voters to elect two candidates instead of one. The motion requires the approval of the Assembly to allow the debate. Under the constitution, parliament serves for four-year terms.

Meanwhile, HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will address the Assembly today on the opening of a special one-day term, during which a number of laws and issues will be debated. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said there will also be speeches by the prime minister and himself. He said that draft laws to be debated include the population law in its second reading after an Assembly panel approved a number of amendments.

The law essentially calls on the government to reduce the number of expats in the country in accordance to a gradual plan to be implemented over the next five years. It also calls for setting quotas for foreign communities in the country. Ghanem said the Assembly will also debate in the second reading a law stipulating the allocation of KD 3 billion to support small and medium projects impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The speaker however regretted that the interior and defense panel failed to hold a meeting that was supposed to discuss a law to resolve the decades-old problem of over 100,000 stateless people or bedoons. Ghanem charged that some MPs deliberately foiled the meeting and pledged to reveal their names after the close of the Assembly session. He said that the special term will conclude today. MP Nabil Al-Fadhl also charged that some MPs deliberately foiled three meetings of the interior and defense committee that were supposed to discuss the bedoon issue.

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