Kuwait signs up 115 candidates for coming elections

Kuwaitis to head to the polls on September 29 to elect next parliament after National Assembly was dissolved in June

Khalid Al Othaibi registers his candidacy in Kuwait City. EPA
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Kuwait's Interior Ministry has received more than 115 registrations from candidates before polls to elect the next parliament after more than a year of political tension between the National Assembly and government.

The first day for registration on Monday closed with 107 male and eight female applicants across the five electoral districts.

Kuwaitis are expected to head to the polls on September 29 to elect its next parliament more than two years since they last cast their ballots after the National Assembly was dissolved in June.

Among the 115 candidates, 22 are former members of parliament, including former speaker Ahmed Al Saadoun who will vie to challenge incumbent speaker Marzouq Al Ghanem.

Emir Sheikh Nawaf and Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal dissolved parliament in June and called for early general elections, issuing a warning that continued political tension between the elected National Assembly and appointed government of ministers posed a danger to national unity and security.

“There are dangers and crises surrounding the country from every side,” Sheikh Meshal said in a televised address to the nation. “We need to be careful and take lessons because dangers surround us from all sides. There is overlap between the legislative and executive powers, resulting in practices that threaten national unity."

Kuwait’s former prime minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah handed his cabinet’s resignation to Sheikh Meshal on April 5 after months of political infighting in the National Assembly.

Candidate Fajr Al Saeed speaks to press outside the Interior Ministry's elections affairs department registration centre in Kuwait City. EPA

Sheikh Meshal then appointed the emir’s son, Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah, who recently added 12 ministers to his cabinet.

Eight women also registered their candidacy papers on Monday, with the hope of increasing female representation in the next parliament after Kuwaitis failed to elect any in 2020.

Female activists have protested in the past year after a series of controversial decisions from the government and parliament. In February, hundreds of women demonstrated after the government banned on a female yoga retreat labelled as indecent and immoral by hardline conservatives in parliament.

Alia Al Khaled, who is contesting for a seat in Kuwait’s second district, stressed on the need for “comprehensive reform in the country during the coming period”.

Ahmed Al Saadoun, former speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly. EPA

Safa Al Hashem, the sole female MP before the most recent election in 2020, had yet to register her candidacy at the time of publication.

More candidates are expected to register as the Interior Ministry has opened applications for the next nine days.

Among those who attempted to register is outspoken former opposition MP Marzouq Al Khalifa, who currently faces a two-year jail sentence over his alleged participation in illegal primary elections in the previous national ballot.

Under electoral rules, candidates must be of Kuwaiti origin, be at least 30 years of age and have no criminal convictions or records.

Mr Al Khalifa handed himself to authorities after filing his candidacy papers on Tuesday, arguing that his case regarding allegations of election fraud was continuing.

Updated: August 30, 2022, 2:14 PM