Kuwaiti group urges election boycott over reforms

AFP , Wednesday 7 Dec 2011

A Kuwaiti opposition group called on voters Wednesday to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections over what it called a lack of political and legislative reforms necessary for fair polls

The Ummah party, a group of Islamist and conservative politicians founded in 2005 but still not officially recognised, called in a statement for reforming the electoral system and establishing an independent election commission.

The group also called for legalising political parties ahead of the polls to guarantee a smooth rotation of authority and hold the government accountable in case it failed to carry out its programme.
Political parties are not recognised in Kuwait but many political groups operate as de facto parties.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved parliament on Tuesday following protests against the previous government headed by Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-al-Ahmad Al-Sabah over corruption allegations.

The new elections must be held within 60 days of dissolving the 50-member parliament but so far no date has been set. The oil-rich Gulf state has been rocked by a series of political crises over the past six years during which seven governments were forced to resign and parliament was dissolved on four occasions.

The Ummah party stressed that dissolving parliament will help defuse tensions, but the lingering political crisis in the country will not be resolved without allowing the Kuwaiti people to elect their own government.

Under the current system, the ruler appoints the government headed by a member of the Al-Sabah ruling family which will continue to hold key posts regardless of the outcome of the elections.

The Ummah party had boycotted the general polls in 2006 and 2009 but fielded candidates in 2008 although it did not win any seats. The group also had a number of supporters in the dissolved parliament.
Several political and youth groups and some former opposition MPs have urged fundamental political and constitutional reforms in Kuwait with some calling for a constitutional monarchy.

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