Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Kuwait: Bickering after Amendment of Election Law, Opposition Dubs it ‘Political Isolation’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Emir of Kuwait, Reuters

Kuwait-Kuwait’s National Assembly amended on Thursday the country’s election law to prohibit those accused by court of insulting the Almighty, prophets or the emir from running for elections.

The amendment was approved by 40 out of the 43-member National Assembly. Three members voted against the law.

Kuwait’s opposition said the amendment aims to “politically isolate” its political figures who are accused of insulting the country’s emir.

The new amended law will therefore deprive dozens of opposition members, including jailed former deputy Musallam Al-Barrak from running in next year’s elections.

Barrak, the secretary-general of the Popular Action Movement, spends his second year in prison after he was accused of insulting the emir in a speech he delivered in 2012.

In the speech, Barrak had said: “We won’t allow you, your highness, to rule individually.”

On April 15, 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison. The Court of Appeals later lowered the sentence to two years.

The amendment came after leading Kuwaiti opposition figures and organizations decided to run in the next elections based on the current election law.

The opposition had boycotted the previous polls for being held based on the one man, one vote law.

In this regard, Kuwaiti constitutional expert Dr. Mohammed al-Feeli told Asharq Al-Awsat that the new law has not yet come into force. He said the law should be ratified next February to become effective.

Kuwait’s liberal movement expressed its opposition to the new law. The National Democratic Alliance had described the amendment as “an unconstitutional expansion to reinforce sanctions against the citizens’ rights to vote and run for elections.”

The National Democratic Alliance said: “Insulting the Almighty, prophets and the emir have been criminalized through several laws previously passed by the parliament, and which had indicated that prison sentence and a fine are enough as punishments. So there is no need to go to the extent of prohibiting those convicted from contesting the elections.”

Meanwhile, one person was killed and at least 55 were injured in a fire that broke out at Kuwait’s central prison.

The directorate of public relations at the Interior Ministry said the fire, which erupted in section four of the prison, was later contained by firefighters.

The directorate said that the Kuwait Fire Service Directorate has already launched its investigation to determine the cause of the blaze.