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Liberal National Alliance to take part in elections – Two police officers sentenced to death over torture

KUWAIT: The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the main umbrella of liberal groups, said yesterday it has decided to accept the ruling of the constitutional court in confirming the controversial electoral law amendment and announced it will take part in the next election. The announcement comes just one day after the main opposition alliance comprising Islamist, nationalist and other liberal groups and activists, said it has decided to boycott any future elections based on the single-vote amendment. The leftist Progressive Movement insisted in a statement that the constitutional court rulings will not resolve the chronic political crisis in the country which can be solved only through true democratic reforms.

The constitutional court on Sunday confirmed that the amendment to the electoral law introduced by HH the Amir last October is in line with the constitution. But the court cancelled the December election process, scrapping the National Assembly and ordering fresh elections. The NDA said in a statement that it has decided to accept the constitutional court verdict although it was against its ambitions "out of respect for court rulings".

The alliance insisted that it will take part in the coming elections, expected to be held within two months, and that it will work within the Assembly to introduce a series of reforms including legalizing political parties, a new electoral system, the independence of judiciary and preparing the ground to reach a full parliamentary system. The NDA, which had around six MPs in the 50-seat Assembly in the 2009 house, had boycotted the December election along with other opposition groups in protest against the electoral law amendment.

Other opposition groups, comprising Islamists, nationalists and other liberals, vowed after a lengthy meeting Sunday night that they will not take part in the forthcoming election in protest against the constitutional court ruling which "ended the rule of the constitution". The opposition said it will take a series of actions in the near future to express its rejection to holding parliamentary elections on the basis of the single-vote law.

The Progressive Movement in the meantime said that the chronic political crisis in the country has not been resolved or dealt with because its causes still exist. The crisis has not resulted from the single-vote amendment but from a trend in the country to adopt individualism in governing and decision-making, it charged. Among the reasons are the shortcomings in the 1962 constitution which lacks the most important democratic guarantees in legalizing political parties and a fair election system, it added. It called on opposition groups to adopt a program for true reforms that aims to achieve a full parliamentary system.

In another development, the court of cassation, the highest court in Kuwait, yesterday sentenced two police officers to death for torturing a Kuwaiti citizen to death at a police station. The court also sentenced four other policemen to 15 years in jail each, a fifth for two years in prison and fined two others KD 75 each. The court, whose rulings cannot be appealed, also acquitted 11 others including two foreign civilians who worked at the police station. The criminal and appeals courts had sentenced the two officers for life terms but the cassation court toughened the sentence to death.

The officers were convicted of torturing to death Kuwaiti citizen Mohammad Al-Maimouni at a police station in Ahmadi in Jan 2011 on charges that he was selling liquor, a charge that was found to be fabricated. The policemen arrested Maimouni and tortured him mercilessly in a remote desert area for three days and then brought him to the police station and continued the torture. They refused his non-stop pleading that he was a cardiac patient and that he needed to take his medication. The torture and refusing to give him medicine led to his death.

The deceased was rushed to Kuwait Oil Company hospital in Ahmadi after he collapsed at the police station. But he was dead when he arrived and doctors discovered he was tortured. The issue forced former interior minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah to resign after he was accused of providing false information to the Assembly.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer

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This article was published on 18/06/2013