Kuwait to hold snap parliamentary elections on April 4

Vote during final days of Ramadan follows dissolution of the National Assembly by Emir Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad

Kuwaitis will be voting for a new parliament for the fourth time since December 2020. EPA
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Kuwait will hold snap parliamentary elections on April 4, coinciding with the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan.

“The Cabinet approved a draft Emiri decree inviting voters to elect the National Assembly on Thursday, April 4,” government spokesman Amer Al Ajmi said.

Registration of candidates will begin on March 4, he added.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad issued a decree dissolving parliament earlier this month, after a dispute over comments made in the National Assembly by MP Abdul Karim Al Kandari that were considered insulting to the ruler.

The decree cited “unrestrained, insulting language” that failed to respect the emir’s position.

Sheikh Meshal, previously the Crown Prince, became Emir after the death of his predecessor and half-brother Sheikh Nawaf in December.

The dissolution of the assembly came amid an extended political deadlock that has prevented parliament from passing reforms to diversify Kuwait's economy, while budget deficits and low foreign investment have added to rising frustration among the population.

Sheikh Meshal warned after taking office that there was "no room" for settling political scores between the legislative and executive branches of government.

The National Assembly has been dissolved twice since December 2020, and one election was nullified, meaning Kuwaitis would head to the polls for the fourth time in four years.

Observers fear a low voter turnout in the coming election, especially given it is being held during the holy month of Ramadan.

According to Kuwait's constitution, elections must take place within two months of the dissolution of parliament.

"Kuwaitis are in fatigue mode and hyper-voting is no solution," Bader Alsaif, an assistant professor of history at Kuwait University, told The National.

Voting on April 4 will be held without an election commission, after the National Assembly's new election law was temporarily suspended until October 1 under a decree issued last week.

Sheikh Meshal's decree said the previous election law would be reinstated for the interim.

The dissolved National Assembly had issued a law to appoint a new independent authority to oversee parliamentary elections as part of political reforms.

“It was impossible to appoint judges to lead the commission within a short time as required by the suspended law,” the decree said.

Updated: February 28, 2024, 8:57 AM