Kuwaiti by-elections for two parliamentary seats set to take place

Five women are among the 47 candidates vying for two parliament seats

Kuwaiti lawmakers attend the opening session of the new parliament in Kuwait City, on October 30, 2018. / AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat
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Kuwait will have 42 men and five women running this weekend for two parliamentary seats formerly belonging to convicted lawmakers, according to local sources.

An official in the General Elections Administrations said the candidates will run in by-elections to replace former lawmakers Waleed Tabtabaei and Jamaan Al Harbesh after they were given jail sentences last year.

The two MPs were charged with storming the parliament building in November 2011 during a protest in Kuwait.

The five women running for parliament could join the sole female MP, Safaa Al Hashem, whose populist policies have drawn criticism from the country’s more liberal constituency.

The candidates will be given one week to campaign with ballots cast on March 16 and the results announced the following day.

They will be sworn in on March 19, the next parliament session where MPs Mubarak Al Hajraf and Al Humaidi Al Subaie are expected to grill the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Khalid Al Roudhan, over allegations of abuse of public funds.

Mr Al Roudhan will also be questioned over allegations of favouritism and non-collection of debts owed by the state. His grilling would be the first in a new government sworn in by the Kuwaiti government since their appointment last year.

Mr Al Roudhan’s family has a history of assuming ministerial roles and being subject to grilling sessions by Kuwait’s parliament.

Kuwait’s constitution stipulates that it is the National Assembly’s right to file requests to summon ministers for questioning, which in the past has often resulted in fierce grillings over corruption allegations and led several ministers to resign in recent years.