Rain, which started Sunday evening, kept falling all over Kuwait in short bursts Monday leaving pools of water in various areas
PROTEST ALLOWED Court reinstates candidacy of 24

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 26: The Administrative Court overturned the decision of the National Election Commission (NEC) which had disqualified 37 candidates from taking part in the Dec 1, 2012 parliamentary elections on grounds of ‘bad’ reputation.

In its ruling the court reinstated the following 24 candidates: Saleh Ashour, Yousef Al-Zalzalah, Khalaf Dumaithir, Saadoun Hamad Al-Otaibi, Askar Al-Enezi, Mubarak Al-Khurainej, Khaled Adwa Al-Ajmi, Nabil Al-Fadhel, Jamal Rashid Idriss, Khaled Al-Shulaimi, Khaled Hamad Al-Rashidi, Khaled Al-Hazza, Esam Salman Al-Dabbous, Adel Ali Al-Muhaid, Sultan Jadan Al-Shimmari, Mubarak Al-Kafidi, Mubarak Faraj, Abdul-Rahman Al-Baloshi, Jalwi Nasser Al-Ajmi, Mahmoud Dashti, Abdullah Yousef Saleh, Rashid Faris Al-Azmi, Nasser Khalaf Al-Shimmari and Faisal Jaber.

The court, however, rejected the appeals of five of the 31 candidates and stood by a decision issued by the NEC. The five are Abdullah Ghazi Al-Attar, Anwar Ghazi Al-Attar, Saleh Abdullah Al-Musailim, Faisal Jaber Saleh and Ali Nasser Al-Azmi.

Meanwhile, the court decided to look into the appeals of candidates Abdul-Hameed Dashti and Hussein Shams on Wednesday.

Following the court verdict a total of 303 candidates including 13 women will vie for the 50 National Assembly seats. However, this number may increase following a court ruling in the cases of other candidates who have been disqualified.

Meanwhile, the government through the Fatwa and Legislative Department filed an appeal against the Administrative Court ruling on the annulment of the NEC decision.
In its appeal, the department says the decision to disqualify the said candidates was ‘just’ because good reputation forms the basis for accepting the candidature of a person.
The Administrative Court in another ruling said the cancellation of the decree of necessity which gives ‘one man one vote’ does not fall within its jurisdiction.

This came following a case filed by lawyer Riyadh Al-Sanei challenging the constitutionality of the decree and called for a return to the old system (four votes per person) and conduct new elections based on this system.

The judge ruled that, it is the Constitutional Court that can look into the decree and the Parliament or the government has the right to resort to it to settle the matter.

The new Parliament also has the right to vote on the decree and can either endorse it or reject it.
In another case, the Criminal Court postponed to Jan 7, 2013 the case of 68 citizens including eight former MPs who stormed the Parliament building on Nov 26, 2011 after an opposition rally at the Erada Square.

Meanwhile, the candidates who have been reinstated by the Administrative Court expressed their pleasure with the court ruling which they described as fair. The candidates also vow to cancel the decree establishing the National Election Commission.

Former MP and First Constituency candidate, Saleh Ashour said he respects the fair verdict “but I still have reservations about the discretion of ‘bad reputation’ created by the commission as an excuse to disqualify the candidates.”

He announced if he wins a seat in the next Parliament, he will work to annual the decree that established the Commission.

Earlier the candidates had signed a document that spells out their intention to annual the decree and present it again after making amendments to it.

Former MP and Fifth Constituency candidate Khaled Al-Adwa also thanked the court for its fairness in reinstating the candidates.

Meanwhile, former MP and Second Constituency candidate Dr Salwa Al-Jassar stressed on the need to issue the Anti-Corruption Authority law that was presented by the 2009 Parliament. She said it is important give to the authority a chance to exercise its duties and pre-empt corruption.

On the other hand Al-Jassar described the street march that is slated for next Friday as a ‘Grave Offence Day’. He said this march is a violation of the law because the organizers are calling for demonstration and urging citizens to boycott the upcoming elections.

She indicated members of the so-called Majority Bloc are causing disorder in the country for personal agendas that have nothing to do with development and stability of the country and the interests of citizens.

She noted the bloc has its dangerous agendas on Kuwait “but unfortunately only three or four members are behind these agendas and the rest are just followers.”

 In another development, the Interior Ministry agreed Monday to give license to an opposition march on the eve of the elections.

Kuwaiti activist and head of the International Anti-Guantanamo Coalition (IAGC) said on Twitter the ministry has approved the holding of Nation’s Dignity III march Friday, Nov 30, 2012 and showed a copy of the approval letter.

The letter, signed by the Governor of the Capital Governorate, says there is a condition attached to the approval — it should be peaceful and abide by the gatherings laws. The activist met with the ministry officials to discuss the conditions for the march.

The Ministry of Information held a press conference on Monday afternoon announcing the preparations undertaken by the various ministries towards of the upcoming elections.

Launching the press conference was Mohammed Al-Awash, Assistant Undersecretary for Advertising Affairs, on behalf of the Ministry of Information. He stated that the Higher Council for Media Coverage had undertaken all the steps necessary to ensure the ease, transparency and impartiality of coverage during the election process. In order to ensure transparency and straightforwardness, the preparation included various ministries and institutions, such as the Ministry of Communications and the Municipality, as well as various civil society organizations, such as the Society for Transparency and the Journalists’ Society.
He added that on Nov 30, all advertisements and campaigns by the candidates will be placed on hiatus until the day of the election on Dec 1. The Ministry of Information will be following all printed and broadcast news on the elections to ensure transparency and prevent the dissemination of false information. There was also a discussion session held with a number of notable members from the media providing non-biased and impartial coverage of the events leading up to the elections.

In addition, messages will be broadcast to citizens through various media outlets to inform citizens of their voting rights and responsibilities, and on how to partake in the democratic voting process and exercise their democratic rights. In addition to this, media centers have been opened to facilitate coverage for all the media outlets, and these centers are equipped with the latest technology, available to the 70+ media outlets that will be covering the elections. As well, there is a plan in place catering to the 850+ media representatives that will be covering the actual voting process on the day of the election, including logistical arrangements facilitating their movement throughout the 166 different committees across the 5 constituencies.

Al-Awash was followed by Nabil Ibrahim Al-Rubai’a, Chairman of the Fieldwork Team for the Processing and Preparation of Polling Stations, on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, who confirmed that all the procedures had been taken to ensure that the judges are correctly spread out over the 666 committees in the five constituencies, and that their needs in each committee and voting center were met. He stated that all the voting centers and committees will be inside schools which have been cleared by the Ministry of Education, and added that on this occasion voting would be done manually, as would the counting process, with all the tools and assistance provided to the judges, including aids and microphones, to ensure that the counting process is transparent and straightforward.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Interior were Colonel Adel Al-Hashash, Director of Public Relations and the Moral Guidance Department, and Colonel Mohammed Al-Adwani, Director of the Election Department at the Public Administration for Legal Affairs. Al-Hashash stated that the MoI had arranged with the Ministry of Information and other media outlets over a series of meeting to undertake all the security, transportation and awareness measures for the elections, in order to ensure the safety and smoothness of the procedures. He noted that there is a main focus on supporting the media and facilitating coverage, stating that there are 2 media centers in each constituency.

He also stated that voters can vote by simply presenting their ID cards at their designated committees and voting centers, greatly simplifying the process, and that SMS information services are being used to inform voters about security, traffic and other information concerning voting. In addition, he stated that there are 210 licensed billboards for the nominees spread over the constituencies, and that informative pamphlets would be handed out outside the voting centers.

Colonel Mohammed Al-Adwani on the other hand stated that procedures had been taken following each decree since the dissolution of parliament, and that the MoI had been concerned with issuing IDs to voters since, and preparing ballot boxes, etc. He stated that there are 422,569 voters in total spread over 100 schools with 666 committees in the five constituencies, adding that all committees will be open for voting from 8 am to 8 pm on December 1. In addition, a hotline will be announced providing all voters with information regarding their respective committees and voting centers, and that the centers had been equipped to handle elderly and disabled voters.

Al-Adwani was followed by Mohammed Al-Sayegh, Assistant Undersecretary for Institution Affairs from the Ministry of Education, who stated that all the schools had been prepared and turned into voting centers for the voting process and that on Wednesday all the middle schools would be handed over to the care of the MoI, while high schools and primary schools would follow the next morning.

Next, Mohammed Al-Musawy, speaking on behalf of the General Manager of the Municipality, stated that the Municipality had begun all the procedures and registration, and that they had licensed ads and campaigns for the candidates, as well as removing over 1000 posters that were in breach of the licensing laws, which state that no campaign ads can be placed anywhere other than the voting centers, and any violators can be fined 1,000-3,000 KD. He added that the centers had been well organized and tidied up in preparation for the elections.

Finally, from the Ministry of Health, Munthir Al-Jalahima, Acting Director of the Department for Medical Emergencies, stated that the centers have all been equipped to deal with any medical emergencies that will occur during voting, and that meals will be provided at the centers for judges and representatives.
To conclude, of the press conference, there was a Q&A session, in which the speakers clarified that in the case of protests which have been announced for the day of the elections, should these take place legally and within the right channels then this would not be a problem, but any other violations would be dealt with according to the laws as dictated by the type of violation, and that all the necessary procedures had been undertaken to safeguard the whole process.

Agencies add:
Kuwait on Monday issued a permit to allow the opposition to stage a demonstration on the eve of a disputed general election, the interior ministry and activists said.
“We found the request submitted by the organisers fulfilled conditions set by the interior ministry and accordingly we issued the necessary licence,” interior ministry spokesman Colonel Adel al-Hashash told a news conference.
The ministry has insisted the protest be peaceful, he said.
Authorities banned two previous protests on Oct 21 and November 4 but the opposition went ahead and staged processions which turned violent.
More than 150 protesters and 24 policemen were slightly injured when riot police used teargas and stun grenades to disperse the two rallies.
Opposition activists, whose parties have called for an election boycott, said on Twitter that they had received the permit and will go ahead with the protest on Friday, a day before the polls.
The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition has been protesting against the government for unilaterally amending the electoral law even after the top court in the oil-rich Gulf state ruled the legislation was in line with the constitution.
The opposition charges that the amendment clears the way for the election of a pro-government parliament.

By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim, Nihal Sharaf and Joana Saba Arab Times Staff

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