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Interior refers tribal cases to prosecution

headline2KUWAIT: The Interior Ministry announced yesterday that it has referred three tribal primary election cases to the public prosecution for investigation and plans to send the fourth today. The ministry said in a statement that two cases took place in the Fourth Constituency and the third in the Fifth District while the fourth one to be made today is in the Fifth Constituency.

Almost all of the country's major bedouin tribes hold the so-called primaries ahead of parliamentary and municipality elections in order to boost the chances of their candidates in occupying seats in the National Assembly. In previous elections, major tribes used to nominate four candidates to represent them in elections because each voter was allowed to elect up to four candidates. But the selection system has been changed following the amendment of the electoral law which reduced the voter's choice to just one candidate.

In last December elections, almost all tribes boycotted the polls and no tribal primaries were held. Tribal voters normally comply with the choice of their tribes. The ministry is expected to refer more tribal primary cases to the public prosecution as most of the tribes have announced plans to hold their primaries. Tribal primary elections are outlawed under the election law but the overwhelming majority of such cases were rejected by courts for a lack of evidence.

In a related development, the Administrative Court yesterday reviewed another petition calling on the court to freeze the July 27 election and set next Sunday as a date to issue its ruling. Two days ago, the same court set Sunday to rule on a similar petition which demanded halting the election process on the allegations that the Cabinet is illegitimate for not consisting of at least one elected MP as the constitution stipulates.

Yesterday's petition called for stopping the polls because the newly-built Al-Nahdha residential area has not been added to any of the five constituencies and accordingly, voters residing there will not be able to vote. The defense lawyer Mubarak Al-Harbi said that the election must be stopped until the new residential area is added to a constituency to allow its residents to exercise their franchise.

In the first petition, lawyer Adel Al-Abdulhadi said that following the Constitutional Court's ruling on June 16 which nullified the Assembly election in December and dissolved the Assembly, the only elected MP in the cabinet, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al-Rasheedi lost her membership in the Assembly which resulted in rendering the cabinet unconstitutional.

Abdulhadi said that based on the consequences of the ruling, decisions made by the Cabinet will be illegal, including the approval of the election decree. Accordingly, this could lead to nullifying the next election and lead to scrapping the Assembly for the third time since June 20 last year. Eight candidates withdrew their nominations yesterday leaving just 410 hopefuls in the fray. Withdrawal of candidates remains open until July 19.

In the meantime, the Islamic Salaf Alliance issued two contradictory statements yesterday regarding the election, reflecting serious divisions within the group. A statement issued early in the day said that the Salaf group has decided to boycott the election and criticized those who are taking part, while a second statement issued later stressed the group will participate in the polls and called on voters to take part.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer

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This article was published on 09/07/2013