KUWAIT: Snap National Assembly elections will be held on Nov 26, according to a decision by the Cabinet yesterday, a day after HH the Amir dissolved the Assembly over a row over the hike in petrol prices. The Cabinet’s decision will be issued in an Amiri decree and published in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm to signal the start of the 40-day election campaign to elect 50 new members to the Assembly.

Under the election law, the Amiri decree must be published in the official gazette at least one month before the election date. Registration of candidates will start after the publication for 10 days, and withdrawal from the race will remain open until four days before the election date. Candidates must be Kuwaiti citizens by birth and at least 30 years of age on the day of the polls.

Almost all outgoing Assembly members are expected to seek reelection. So far, only Salafist MP Abdulrahman Al-Jeeran said he is not contesting because the Salafist group has unanimously elected ex-minister and former lawmaker Ahmad Baqer to contest in the second constituency. The three Cabinet ministers who are elected MPs – Public Works Minister Ali Al-Omair, Communications and Municipality Minister Essa Al-Kandari and Awqaf and Justice Minister Yaqoub Al-Sane – submitted their resignations in order to be able to contest the polls. Their resignations were accepted by the Cabinet. Under Kuwaiti law, the 16-member Cabinet must include at least one elected member from the Assembly.

This year’s election is expected to attract huge attention and witness heated races after many opposition groups said they will field candidates after boycotting the previous two polls in protest against the change in the voting system. The Islamic Constitutional Movement, the Kuwaiti arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, said it will name its candidates this week. The opposition group, which ended its boycott, is fielding six candidates. The Islamist Ummah Principles Group, another opposition group that will take part in the polls, is also fielding several candidates.

MP Ali Al-Khamees said he has decided to seek reelection mainly to confront the candidacy of controversial MP Abdulhameed Dashti, who said on Twitter that he is contemplating to run in the election. Dashti, who has received total jail sentences of over 31 years for insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, has been living outside Kuwait since March.

On Sunday, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved the Assembly at the recommendation of the Cabinet after MPs filed three requests to grill ministers for raising petrol prices and alleged financial and administrative violations. The Assembly has been dissolved seven times since 2006 over continued disputes between MPs and the government.

By B Izzak