Court to hear first challenge against barring candidates

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: A court will begin Sunday reviewing the first challenge against the disqualification of candidates from running in next month’s parliamentary polls, former MP and candidate Bader Al-Dahoum said yesterday. Dahoum’s lawyer filed a petition yesterday challenging the decision of a special election commission set up by the interior ministry to review the credentials of candidates.

Dahoum, a former opposition Islamist lawmaker, said on Wednesday that he was informed by the interior ministry that he cannot run in the election without specifying any reason. Later, it was explained that he was barred after being condemned by the court for taking part in storming the National Assembly building in 2011 following a protest.

The ministry action was blasted by a number of opposition lawmakers. MP Abdullah Fahhad, running in the fourth constituency, held the prime minister and the interior minister responsible for “this oppressive and selective” action. He said the government should refrain from “political exclusion and interfering in the polls”.

MP Khaled Al-Otaibi said it was illegal to bar candidates for political motives, while MP Adel Al-Damkhi accused the interior minister of excluding reformists. The interior ministry announced on Wednesday that it had disqualified 34 candidates over several reasons, mostly for receiving final court rulings over financial cases.

The ministry said it will not publish the names of those barred, but at least half of the candidates confirmed on Twitter they were officially disqualified and vowed to challenge the decision in court. Those who confirmed include mostly new candidates like Talal Dashti, son of self-exiled former MP Abdulhameed Dashti, lawyer Hani Hussein, tribal activist Ayedh Bukhousah, and lawyer Salah Al-Hashem, brother of MP Safa Al-Hashem, who filed to contest from his sister’s constituency. MP Saadoun Hammad and former MP Yousef Zalzalah, who were reportedly disqualified, denied the reports on their Twitter accounts.

Meanwhile, the information ministry yesterday invited candidates to register to be allowed to explain their election programs on the state-run Kuwait TV free of charge. The ministry said broadcasting of election programs of candidates will begin on Nov 14 and will continue for about 10 days. Candidates have been extensively using online media and interviews with private television stations to reach out to voters after the government banned traditional election rallies and tents.