Safa Al-Hashem
Hope for fresh start in new faces - Turnout put at 40.3 percent Opposition vows to bring down new Parliament - Boycott sidelines tribals, Islamists

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 2: The Ministry of Information said on Sunday that 40.3 percent of Kuwait’s eligible voters cast their ballots in the nation’s 15th election according to international election observers.
In a statement to the press, Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah said: “Kuwait has witnessed a success of democracy as citizens practiced their constitutional rights to choose their representatives for the next parliament. The election result is the foundation for a new start of development and cooperation between the legislative and executive powers to advance Kuwait and all its’ people.”

On his part, Chief Justice Ahmad Al-Ajeel, head of the National Election Commission (NEC), said that “the electoral commission actively monitored the voting at polling stations across Kuwait.”
“We are extremely pleased to report that we investigated thoroughly the limited reports of irregularities and are confident in the results,” he added.

The NEC is currently certifying the election results in which 306 candidates vied for the 50 seats, said the ministry’s statement.

The Shiite minority, who make up 30 percent of the 1.2 million citizens, were the biggest gainers in Saturday’s election. They won 17 seats and in all constituencies, up from nine in 2009 and seven in this year’s earlier assembly. The tables were turned on Sunni Islamist and tribal nationalists who are now around four to six MPs, primarily due to the anti-one-vote opposition boycott. More than 50 percent of the new parliament is comprised of first time lawmakers, around 31 MPs.

Three women lawmakers won seats in the new parliament, despite the low number of female registrants, unlike the previous Islamist-dominated election where no women candidates were able to succeed. Twenty-three women had contested the elections of the annulled assembly.

The race for positions in the new National Assembly’s Secretariat is already underway with around four MPs so far seeking to contest for the position of Parliament Speaker — Bader Ghareeb Al-Bathali, Ahmad Al-Mulaifi, Ali Al-Rashed, Saad Ali Khanfour.

Those who’ve announced they will contest for the position of deputy speaker are — Masouma Al-Mubarak, Mubarak Al-Khurainej, Askar Al-Enezi and Saadoun Hammad.

Meanwhile, opposition former lawmakers and activists deemed their boycott campaign in objection to the new one-vote electoral system a success. They had estimated the voter turnout was as low as 26.7 percent based on the opposition’s data.

Turnout at the February 2012 elections was estimated at 60 percent, while in 2009 turnout was recorded at 58 percent.

Veteran lawmaker and opposition leader Ahmad Al-Saadoun said that “this assembly has flopped politically and popularly and if it continues (the opposition) movement will continue until it falls”.

The opposition, made up of Islamists, nationalists and liberals, said they consider the newly-elected assembly illegitimate and does not represent the majority of the population. They vowed to continue protests to bring down the assembly.

The National Action Bloc comprised of four former liberal lawmakers who’ve boycotted the elections — Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Aseel Al-Awadhi, Adel Al-Sarawwy and Abdullah Al-Roumi — filed an appeal against the one-vote decree of urgency at the Constitutional Court on Sunday.

In a statement, the liberal activists said their case arrives in light of the conflict and divisions in the political arena due to the decree of urgency. “We declare in advance our respect for the Constitution Court’s ruling on this appeal,” they added.

On his part, former liberal MP Saleh Al-Mullah said he will submit his own appeal against the one-vote system on Monday.

Agencies add:
The opposition vowed Sunday to press on with protests until a newly elected parliament is abolished and a disputed law scrapped, a day after Kuwait’s Shiite minority emerged as main victors of a largely-boycotted vote.

“We will continue with our national and peaceful protests under the umbrella of the constitution to bring the downfall of the new parliament,” Islamist opposition leader and former MP Faisal al-Mislim told AFP.
“We will use all peaceful and constitutional tools, including demonstrations and gatherings,” said Mislim.

Organisers of three huge opposition demonstrations ahead of the election announced on their Twitter account Sunday a plan to organise a new rally but did not fix a date.

The opposition has no representative in the 50-seat parliament after it opted to boycott Saturday’s polls to protest the government’s unilateral amendment of Kuwait’s key electoral law.

Under the previous law, a voter was able to choose a maximum of four candidates which was reduced to only one in the new system.

The opposition, which held 36 seats in a dissolved 2012 parliament, has described the move as unconstitutional and says it enables the government to manipulate elections.

“We call for scrapping this parliament and the repealing of the one-vote decree because this parliament does not represent the Kuwaiti people,” Mislim said.

Kuwait’s three biggest bedouin tribes — the Awazem, Mutair and Ajmans with a combined population of over 400,000 — won only one seat against an average of 17 in previous parliaments because of the boycott.

“The majority of the Kuwaiti people sent a direct and transparent message to the Amir ... rejecting the new measures adopted by the government and calling for the new assembly to be abolished,” Mislim said.

On Sunday, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the crown prince and prime minister congratulated the newly-elected lawmakers.

But a majority of the Kuwaiti people heeded opposition calls to boycott the election on Saturday, “which is evident from the fact that voter turnout was less than 27 percent,” Mislim argued.

The information ministry website reported early Sunday that turnout was 38.8 percent. It later put the figure at 40.3 percent based on a report by international observers.

Because of the massive boycott, Shiite candidates won an unprecedented 17 seats, almost doubling their strength from nine seats in 2009. Seven Shiites won seats in the polls last February that the courts nullified.

New Shiite MP Khaled al-Shatti said the new parliament would help restore stability.

“The new assembly will help bring political stability through achievement. It will push with the stalled development, issue necessary legislation and resolve problems facing people,” Shatti told AFP.

The new parliament also has three women and as many as 30 newcomers. Sunni Islamists were reduced to just four MPs from 23 in the February parliament.

But the opposition will continue to refuse to “deal with the new parliament or the next government,” as long as the controversial law stays and the new assembly is not dissolved, Mislim said.

A member of February’s scrapped parliament, Faisal al-Yahya, predicted the new parliament would not be able to continue as protests would escalate.

“Results of the unconstitutional polls will be a major turning point in Kuwait’s political history and will provide the popular movement with new unprecedented momentum,” Yahya said on his Twitter.

OPEC member Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises which stalled development despite a huge wealth from oil. Saturday’s vote was the second in 10 months and the fifth since mid-2006.

The cabinet is expected to resign on Monday to allow the formation of a new government following the polls.

December 2012 Election official results:

First Constituency
1. Kamel Mohammed Al-Awadhi — 5,757
2. Adnan Abdulsamad — 4,947
3. Faisal Al-Duwaisan — 4,741
4. Yousef Al-Zalzalah — 3,500
5.  Masouma Al-Mubarak — 3,227
6. Abdulhameed Dashti — 2,723
7. Saleh Ashour — 2,202
8. Nawaf Suleiman Al-Fuzai — 2,133
9. Khalid Hussein Al-Shatti — 1,885
10.  Hussein Ali Al-Qallaf — 1,696

Second Constituency  
1. Ali  Fahad Al-Rashed — 3,041
2. Adnan Al-Mutawa — 2,607
3. Abdul-Rahman Al-Jeeran — 2,335
4. Bader Ghareeb Al-Bathali — 1,919
5. Adel Musaid Al-Khorafi — 1,834
6. Ahmad Hajji Lari — 1,791
7.  Khalaf Dmaitheer Al-Enezi — 1,553
8. Khalil  Ibrahim Al-Saleh — 1,475
9. Hamad Saif Al-Harhshani — 1,043
10.  Salah Abdullah Al-Ateeqi — 910

Third Constituency
1. Ali Al-Omair — 5,850
2. Khalil Ali Abdullah — 3,887
3. Ahmad Al-Mulaifi — 2,984
4. Safa’ Al-Hashem — 2,622
5. Saadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi — 2,159
6. Hesham Al-Baghli — 2,016
7. Abdullah Al-Maayouf — 1,945
8. Nabeel Al-Fadhl — 1,853
9. Yaaqoub Al-Sane’ — 1,408
10. Mohammad Nasser Al-Jabri — 1,250

Fourth Constituency were
1. Askar Al-Enezi — 2,517
2. Saad Ali Khanfour Al-Rashidi — 2,474
3. Saud Al-Huraiji — 2,125
4. Mubarak  Al-Khurainej — 1,768
5. Thikra Al-Rashidi — 1,283
6. Khaled Al-Shulaimi — 1,251
7. Mohammad Al-Barrak Al-Rashidi — 1,214
8. Meshari Al-Husseini — 1,126
9. Mubarak Bneyya Al-Orf — 1,120
10. Mubarak Al-Nejada — 1,090

Fifth Constituency  
1. Faisal Mohammad Al-Kandari — 3,570
2. Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Tamimi — 2,899
3. Nasser Abdul-Mohsen Al-Marri — 1,672
4. Hani Hussein Shams — 1,646
5. Essam Al-Dabboos — 1,303
6. Khaled Al-Adwa Al-Ajmi — 860  
7. Taher Al-Failakawi — 833
8. Hammad Al-Dosari — 823
9. Saad Al-Boos — 809
10. Nasser Abdullah Al-Shammari — 520

By: Nihal Sharaf Arab Times Staff

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