Kuwait’s parliament speaker says he will not run in upcoming elections

Opposition MPs and their supporters blame Al Ghanim for deteriorating political situation in the country

Kuwait National Assembly speaker Marzouq Al Ghanim will not stand in elections later this month. EPA
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Marzouq Al Ghanim, the speaker of Kuwait’s recently dissolved parliament, announced that he will not run in the upcoming elections scheduled this month, but said that his decision does not mean that he will be “stepping away from the political scene”.

"This temporary decision does not mean at all my departure from the political scene, nor the abandonment of my national duty, but rather it comes in line with my principles and embodies my convictions," Mr Al Ghanim said on Twitter late on Tuesday.

Kuwait’s crown prince announced the dissolution of parliament in a statement on behalf of the emir in June and called for new elections, scheduled to take place on September 29, after more than a year of political infighting between the National Assembly and government.

“The coming period requires all of us to stand united behind our political leadership, and to stay away from personal conflicts and political quarrels that frustrate our society, and waste our time and offend our democratic experience and our national image, and waste the efforts of our founding fathers and our creative pioneers,” Mr Al Ghanim said on Tuesday, referring to the past year of tensions with opposition MPs.

Opposition MPs and their supporters blame Mr Al Ghanim for the worsening political situation in the country and for obstructing the resolution of several key issues.

Mr Al Ghanim, 53, became a strong voice in parliament and was elected as speaker of the house in 2013, 2016 and 2020, but has been at odds with opposition MPs in previous houses.

Candidate Khalid Al Othaibi after registration at the Interior Ministry's elections affairs department registration centre in Kuwait City, August 29, 2022. EPA

“The current stage requires us to carry out our national responsibility through positive participation in the elections and to improve the selection of those who represent us,” Mr Al Ghanim said.

In the last parliamentary elections held in December 2020, Mr Al Ghanim took first place in the second constituency.

The number of candidates who have so far registered to contest the September 29 elections rose to 350 on Tuesday with one day remaining for the registration process. Forty-four members of the dissolved parliament have so far filed their nomination papers and of the remaining six, five have confirmed they are not going to run.

Emir Sheikh Nawaf blamed discord between parliament and the government for months of political turbulence that have paralysed policymaking in the Opec nation and said the move was aimed at addressing the issue.

When he dissolved parliament via a royal decree Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal issued 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 on all sides. There is overlap between the legislative and executive powers, resulting in practices that threaten national unity."

Updated: September 07, 2022, 10:01 AM