By B Izzak

KUWAIT: During the Cabinet's meeting yesterday, Minister of Justice and Awqaf Fahd Al-Afasi told the ministers the committee formed to set the mechanism for the Dec 5 National Assembly elections had sought the opinion of the fatwa and legislation department regarding the participation of people infected with COVID-19, in light of quarantine restrictions. The department concluded that the constitutional right to participate in the election process is an inherent right.

A number of candidates had warned the government against issuing any decision to bar those infected with the coronavirus from voting as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. Former MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji, contesting from the first constituency, warned the government against issuing such a decision and urged authorities to take whatever measures that are necessary to allow them to exercise their franchise.

The government should not deprive them from exercising their constitutional right, even if this requires issuing an emergency decree or calling a special session of the Assembly to approve necessary legislation, Turaiji said. Candidate Salah Anas, contesting from the fifth constituency, said if coronavirus patients are barred from voting, it could lead to court cases and pave the way for scrapping the election results.

Former MP Saifi Al-Saifi vowed yesterday that if elected, he will not remain silent on corruption cases and inflating the cost of government projects, insisting that those who are involved in corruption cases must be held to account. Marzouq Al-Khalifa from the fourth constituency called against politicizing citizenship issues for "narrow selfish interests" and vowed that he will push to issue legislation to allow courts to hear citizenship cases.

Meanwhile, Kuwait National Integrity Society, a non-governmental organization, yesterday said it has filed a complaint at the Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority about suspicious pre-election opinion polls by unlicensed pollsters to influence the election outcome. The Integrity Society said in a statement that as it has been invited by the Cabinet to monitor the general polls, it found that some pollsters had commercial contracts with a number of candidates, which cast doubt on the integrity of such opinion polls.

Several unofficial pollsters have been publishing what they call results of opinion polls showing the potential winners of the Assembly election. The society said entering into commercial contracts to supply certain candidates with products and services for money disqualifies such pollsters from providing fair and neutral opinion polls, and their results could be misleading for voters.

The society called on authorities to ban the publication of opinion polls by pollsters tied with candidates by commercial contracts. It also called on the commerce ministry to ensure that such pollsters have official licenses allowing them to conduct opinion polls.