Calls to limit voting rights face backlash

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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 18: The ongoing calls for amending the Election Law to limit the rights to vote and contest the elections to those who hold Kuwaiti citizenship as per Article One of the Nationality Law (natural-born citizens) have been met with massive opposition, as such calls are deemed to be aimed at dividing the people and tearing the national fabric. Former Deputy National Assembly Speaker Muhammad Al-Mutair stressed that he and all the people of Kuwait wholeheartedly trust the political leadership, so he is sure the abovementioned amendment will never happen and that talking about it is just rumor-mongering. He warned that such calls are too dangerous and could have the worst impact on the country.

Former MP Meteb Ayed Al-Raathan stated that dividing the people of Kuwait is tantamount to undermining national unity. He wondered how one citizen and his children could go out to vote, while his Kuwaiti neighbor is not allowed to do so. He inquired how the latter would feel and what could be the negative effect of such a situation on him. He emphasized the need for tough action against those who adopted and spread calls for such amendment. Former MP Muhammad Hayef pointed out that the nation’s experience during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait put an end to discriminatory and racist calls. He said the period of invasion showed the unity of all the people of Kuwait, as well as the Bedouns who participated in the resistance movement.

He believes those who adopted discriminatory calls want Kuwait to go back to the era of considering those living outside Kuwait Wall as non-Kuwaitis, stressing this should not happen. He added Kuwait is a small State, which cannot bear such calls that could deprive almost 300,000 citizens of their political rights. He thinks the concerned authorities will not respond to the silly, out of tune and racist calls. He asserted the Kuwaitis believe in national unity and peaceful coexistence; away from racist and discriminatory calls, which are rejected as per the religious teachings, Constitution and laws of the country.

In a related development, the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) stated that dissolving the National Assembly is the absolute right of HH the Amir as per Article 107 of the Constitution. It urged the government to immediately complete the legal procedures for conducting elections within the specified period. It then called for fair and transparent election, while condemning the idea of limiting the rights to vote and contest the election to those who hold Kuwaiti citizenship as per Article One of the Nationality Law. He added this prevents hundreds of thousands of citizens from exercising their political rights. The ICM asked the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Information and Public Prosecution to strictly deal with suspicious individuals adopting such a destructive idea.

Meanwhile, the Legal Affairs Committee at the Cabinet has submitted its recommendations regarding the upcoming parliamentary election to the Council of Ministers, such as holding the election on the Saturday before the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan or one day before the end of the two months between the date of issuing the legislative dissolution decree and the Election Day. The committee also recommended the amendment of the Election Law to delegate judges to the Higher Commission for Elections, instead of appointing them.

On the other hand, constitutional expert Professor Ibrahim Al-Homoud explained the meaning of the phrase, ‘original Kuwaiti citizen’ who has the right to vote and run for elections in Article 82 of the Constitution. He cited the explanatory memorandum of the Constitution, stating that the original citizen is anyone born a Kuwaiti whether his father was born a Kuwaiti or acquired the citizenship. He clarified further that the child must be born after his father was granted Kuwaiti citizenship (naturalized) to be considered an original Kuwaiti citizen (natural-born). He added all other countries in the world differentiate between natural-born citizens and those who are naturalized.

By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff

This news has been read 941 times!

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