Kuwait election department disqualifies 15 candidates Featured

The election department of the interior ministry Tuesday decided to disqualify 15 registered candidates from running in the September 29 polls because they had been convicted in court over criminal and political cases, some candidates announced. The decisions of the department were not published but conveyed directly to the concerned candidates some of whom said they will challenge the decision in court today.

Candidates who announced they had been disqualified include former Islamist MPs Nayef Al-Dabbous and Abdullah Al-Barghash. They also include Hani Hussein, Musaed Al-Qarifa, Anwar Al-Fikr and Ayedh Al-Oteibi. Qarifa on Twitter criticized the ministry decision to ban him from contesting the election, saying the action is an infringement on his constitutional right, adding he will challenge it in court.

Oteibi also criticized the decision, saying he was barred over political consideration for repeating a controversial speech by former leading opposition MP Mussallam Al-Barrak about 10 years ago. He was convicted in court over this. Several candidates lashed out at the department’s decision, claiming it is a misuse of authority and law. With this, the number of candidates who are contesting the election has dropped to 356 after 11 candidates withdrew from the race and 15 barred by the department. The withdrawal of candidacy continues until September 22.

In the meantime,  the election campaign continued to highlight major issues, especially what candidates claim wide-scale corruption by senior officials. Candidate Metab Al-Rathaan, running in the fourth constituency, Tuesday called for “reopening all corruption files without exception”, adding that all those who are involved in graft cases against public funds must be held to account. Saad Al-Hajeri of the fifth constituency said corruption has become so established in the country to the extent that reforming it has become extremely difficult but not impossible, adding that corruption should be uprooted in order to build a new country.

Former MP Fayez Al-Mutairi, bidding for re-election from the fourth district, said that he believes Kuwait is in a state of transformation from the corruption era to the reforms era, adding that the ball is in the people’s court. He said he is certain that the people will elect a majority of reformists in the next assembly. Candidate Alia Al-Khaled, a female running in the second constituency, Tuesday said that Kuwait’s problems have increased and become more complicated, adding that “we are in a bottleneck and we should exit it”.

Former MP Bader Al-Mulla, running in the second constituency, said he had investigated the Eur. 7.9 billion deal Kuwait signed to purchase Eurofighter aircraft when he was the head of the assembly budgets committee. He said that only Euro 3.9 billion were allocated for the warplanes while the remaining 4.0 billion were allocated for associated civil works in a bid to increase commissions which amounted to over 590 million euros. In the meantime, the criminal court Tuesday resumed the trial of five former officials from the defense ministry on charges of harming public funds in the Eurofighters deal./KT