Kuwait's main liberal group to take part in polls

AFP , Monday 17 Jun 2013

Kuwait's National Democratic Alliance announces its participation in the upcoming elections

Kuwait's main liberal opposition group said Monday it will participate in future elections as it accepts a ruling of the top court upholding the controversial amendment to the electoral law and dissolving parliament.

The National Democratic Alliance's decision came a day after the Islamist, nationalist and other liberal groups declared they will boycott any future polls based on the amendment confirmed by the constitutional court on Sunday as being in line with the constitution.

"We confirm our commitment to the constitutional court ruling ... and declare we will participate in the forthcoming elections," the alliance, an umbrella for a number of liberal groups and activists, said.

The group had joined other opposition groups and activists in boycotting the December parliamentary election in protest against the amendment.

It vowed to work in parliament to introduce major democratic reforms including a new electoral law, issuing bills to legalise political parties, ensure the independence of the judiciary and pave the way to achieve a full parliamentary system.

In a landmark ruling Sunday, the constitutional court scrapped last December's parliamentary election, ordered fresh polls, but approved the electoral law amendment that sparked opposition groups to boycott polls.

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah called on the people to accept and abide by the ruling and urged national unity.

But the Islamist, nationalist and most liberal opposition groups vowed to boycott the next election after the court's ruling which they claimed will encourage autocratic rule in the emirate.

Under Kuwaiti law, the new election must be held within 60 days.

The amendment to the electoral law was decreed by the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state in October which triggered street protests by the opposition.

The electoral law passed in 2006 allowed each eligible voter to choose a maximum of four candidates. The amendment reduced the number to just one.

Opposition groups had rejected the electoral law amendment charging that it had enabled the government to manipulate election results and subsequent legislation.

Kuwaiti citizens make up just 1.2 million of the emirate's 3.8 million population. The OPEC member pumps 3.0 million barrels of oil per day.

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