Kuwait’s Constitutional Court has ruled that last September’s parliamentary election, in which the opposition made gains, was void and that the previous assembly must be reinstated.
The move on Sunday comes at a time of renewed friction between the elected parliament and government and follows the reappointment this month of the country’s prime minister, whose government had resigned in January in the standoff with parliament.
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Last year, Kuwait’s crown prince dissolved parliament and called early polls in an effort to end prolonged domestic political feuding that has hindered fiscal reform.
The September polls – the most inclusive in a decade – saw opposition members clinch 28 out of 50 seats, giving them a parliamentary majority. The vote marked a victory for opposition figures, many of whom had stayed out of elections in the past decade over what they alleged was meddling by the executive authorities over parliament.
However, Justice Mohammad bin Naji on Sunday said the court had declared the dissolution of parliament as void and had annulled the early elections held in September.
“The constitutional authority of the dissolved parliament shall be restored as of the date of this ruling,” he told the court session attended by reporters.
‘Invalidity of the electoral process’
Lawyer Nawaf Al-Yassin said the ruling followed several electoral appeals.
“The appeals relate to the invalidity of the electoral process, the decrees calling for elections, and the decree dissolving the previous National Assembly,” he told AFP news agency.
Kuwait, an OPEC oil producer, bans political parties but has given its legislature more influence than similar bodies in other Gulf monarchies.
خطاب سمو ولي العهد في ٢٢-٦-٢٠٢٢ والنطق السامي لسموه في ١٨-١٠-٢٠٢٢ أكد وبوضوح بأن اجراءات الحل والانتخابات تمت وفق القوانين والاجراءات الدستورية وحكم المحكمة اليوم يثبت بأن جميعها كانت خاطئة لذلك يجب محاسبة من قام بإبداء الرأي القانوني .. الكويت لا تستحق هذه المهازل
— صالح أحمد عاشور (@SalehAshoor) March 19, 2023
Translation: The address by his highness the crown prince on June 22, 2022, and by his spokesperson on October 18, 2022, said clearly that the dissolution and elections happened in accordance with the law and constitutional procedures. Today’s court ruling shows that all of them were wrong. Therefore, it is necessary to hold accountable the person who provided the legal counsel … Kuwait does not deserve such farces.
Frequent political bickering has often led to cabinet reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament, hampering investment and reforms aimed at reducing the country’s heavy reliance on oil revenue.
A lawmaker from the dissolved assembly, Abdullah Al-Turaiji, welcomed the move as “correcting the government’s mistake in dealing with parliament”.
Political stability in Kuwait has traditionally depended on cooperation between the government and parliament.
While Kuwait’s leadership has responded to some opposition demands, including the pardoning of political dissidents, key reform proposals such as a public debt law continue to face legislative gridlock.