Last Updated: Sun Aug 12, 2012 21:26 pm (KSA) 18:26 pm (GMT)

Kuwait may slip into political crisis if election law changes: analyst

The Kuwaiti Parliament, pictured being opened by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in October 2011,  could face a crisis if the country’s electoral law is changed, political analyst Dahem al-Qahtani says. (Reuters)
The Kuwaiti Parliament, pictured being opened by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in October 2011, could face a crisis if the country’s electoral law is changed, political analyst Dahem al-Qahtani says. (Reuters)

Kuwait could slip into a political crisis if Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah granted a government request to change its electoral law, a political analyst warned Sunday.

“I don’t think that the parliament, reinstated by the Constitutional Court will agree to convene. This will lead to disbanding it again,” Kuwaiti political analyst Dahem al-Qahtani told Al Arabiya in a Sunday interview.

Qahtani expected speaker Jassem al-Kharafi to call for parliament to convene more than once, but that it would fail to do so due to absence of most members. That would offer a pretext for the government to ask the Emir to disband the body and hold elections in October, he said.

The Kuwaiti parliament was dissolved in December 2011 to be reinstated in June 2012 by the Constitutional Court, to the chagrin of the opposition.

Speaker Kharafi has adjourned the parliament indefinitely after failing to secure the required quorum, and has said he would refer the matter to the Emir, who is expected to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections or to change the electoral law altogether.

“What remains to be seen is whether al-Sabah will change electoral law,” Qahtani said. “But if he does, Kuwait will be facing the first political crisis of its kind.”

Qahtani said that the problem did not solely lie in the parliament, but was also caused by the government.

“Had the government been stable, the parliament would be the cause of the problem. But the government has resigned nine times, compared to the parliament being dissolved five times,” he said.

Despite the current political instability, Qahtani ruled out the possibility of a coup taking place in Kuwait.

“The political system in Kuwait is one of the most stable in the Arab world and the problems happening now do not amount to the unrest that took place in Yemen or Tunisia, for example,” he said.

Qhatani noted said the main reason for political stability in Kuwait was the presence of a parliament that struck a balance with the regime and maintained transparency in discussing all issues.

In addition to the parliamentary standstill, Qahtani said that Kuwait was facing a more general political problem due to the current struggle for power.

“There is a power struggle between the factions represented in the parliament and others outside -- especially those with tribal affiliations -- which has been ongoing since 2006,” he said.

The fact that the Constitutional Court has become part of the crisis, Qahtani pointed out, has further complicated the matter, especially since the last ruling to reinstate the parliament came as a surprise and in contradiction to other rulings the court had issued in similar cases.

“This is similar to the problem that happened in Turkey when Erdogan had to restructure the Constitutional Court,” Qahtani said. “At the time he was accused of interfering in judicial matters, but he argued that he was returning the court to its original role after it had for a long time been the mouthpiece of the military.”

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