The Cabinet on Wednesday approved an emergency decree, for the first time requiring voters to use their civil IDs to prove their residential addresses as a way to combat suspected corruption in elections, Minister of Justice Jamal Al-Jalawi announced. In a second decree, the Cabinet added new residential areas to the existing five electoral districts to allow eligible voters in those areas to participate in the polls.
The requirement to use only civil IDs for voters to prove their place of residence is a major change in Kuwaiti elections, which in the past depended on electoral rolls prepared by the interior ministry and updated every year in February. The use of electoral rolls had allegedly allowed candidates to illegally move voters from one district to another to dramatically boost their chances of winning a seat in the National Assembly.
Such allegations were widely made in the local media and on social media, where the names of the alleged culprits were published without evidence. According to the new method, voters can cast their votes in the Assembly elections only in the constituencies where they live based on the address stated on the civil ID. The Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) will issue new electoral rolls based on the voters’ addresses.
This measure will prevent corrupt candidates from moving voters from one constituency to another, depriving them of means to boost their chances to win seats in the Assembly. Two weeks ago, the National Assembly was dissolved by an Amiri decree, which also called for holding snap elections to elect a new parliament. The decree cited continued political disputes between the government and opposition MPs as the cause of dissolving the house.
In a televised speech delivered by HH the Crown Prince two months ago, HH the Amir vowed to prevent corruption in the forthcoming elections and pledged the government will not interfere in the election of the Assembly speaker. Adopting civil IDs to vote was one of the major demands by opposition MPs to ensure free and fair elections.
No date has been decided yet for the snap polls, but under Kuwait’s constitution, the new elections must be held within two months of dissolving the Assembly – before October 1 in this case. A decree setting the election date and inviting voters to elect a new 50-member Assembly is expected to be issued next week./agencies