KuwaitPoliticsTop Stories

New vote-buying network busted

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The interior ministry said on Saturday it has busted a network of two people involved in vote-buying activities in favor of three candidates running in the June 6 National Assembly elections. The ministry added in a statement that security men seized cash and lists of names of voters. The two suspects admitted they were buying votes for three candidates in the first, second and fourth constituencies.

The statement said the ministry will refer the two suspects to the public prosecution for further investigations. Last week, the ministry arrested 10 citizens and expats suspected of buying votes for candidates. The public prosecution has freed three suspects on bail but extended the detention of the remaining seven suspects.
With just two days remaining for Tuesday’s elections, candidates continued to focus on the reasons behind the country’s non-stop political disputes and a lack of stability that has stalled development. Former MP and ex-justice minister Hussein Al-Huraiti, running from the first constituency, asked why Kuwait has been marred by political problems in the past several years, although “we have a constitution and enjoy a huge financial windfall”.

“We have a problem. There is unemployment in the country and our projects are always late. Education is backward and we have a major housing problem,” Huraiti said. “We have huge resources but neighboring Gulf states are way ahead of us.” Candidate Thamer Al-Enezi said Kuwait is passing through a crucial period and only Kuwaiti voters can resolve the dilemma by voting for the best candidates.

Former MP Marzouq Al-Hubaini attributed the problems to a lack of political stability. He said for example in the past four years, eight governments have changed, adding the normal timespan for these governments should have lasted 32 years. Also, in less than two-and-a-half years, three National Assemblies have been either dissolved or scrapped by court, while their normal tenure should have been 12 years.

Alia Al-Khaled, a member of the scrapped 2022 Assembly, said Kuwait is facing one of the “biggest and most serious financial and economic problems”, adding the scenario of a sharp drop in oil prices should not be ruled out. She added the government is risking the future of the country by continuing to depend on a single source of income, which is oil.

Candidates also urged voters to turn in large numbers. “We have been revolving in a vicious circle of political rivalry. This is what has taken us to a dead end and to a state of political polarization,” former MP and candidate from the second constituency Ahmad Al-Hamad said. He called for a roadmap that is agreed by all parties to end disputes and focus on development.

Former MP Hisham Al-Saleh urged Kuwaiti citizens to vote in large numbers, saying that if voters don’t go to the ballots, parties and groups will control the next Assembly and will continue to block development and megaprojects. He indirectly blasted opposition groups and members, blaming them for preventing a number of key megaprojects and forcing foreign investors to go to neighboring countries. “What is happening in Kuwait is a crime,” said Saleh, who is contesting for a seat from the third constituency.

Candidate Abdullah Al-Shateri criticized the government for escaping from Assembly sessions to prevent MPs from discussing key issues. Under Kuwaiti law, the presence of at least one minister is essential for Assembly sessions to be legal. Candidate Sami Al-Mane called for amending the Assembly’s internal charter to make it legal for the Assembly to convene without the presence of any minister.

He also said there is an urgent need to amend the election law to change the system from one based on individuals to something close to a multiparty system. He added this should be preceded with a law allowing the establishment of political groups. Former MP Saud Al-Mutairi said the next election will be a battle between reform and corruption, adding reform will emerge victorious on June 6.

Meanwhile, the ministry of justice said as many as 1,157 judges will supervise the election and conduct the counting of votes and eventually announce the results. Polling will be conducted in 118 main voting centers, which comprise of 759 polling booths. The ministry of social affairs also issued a stern warning to civil societies from attempting to back certain candidates fighting the polls, saying those found helping candidates will be dissolved.

Back to top button