According to last year’s polls, opposition members won 28 of the 50 seats, giving them a parliamentary majority.
Kuwait’s Constitutional Court has ruled that last September’s parliamentary elections, in which the opposition won, were null and void and that the previous assembly should be reinstated.
The move on Sunday comes amid renewed friction between the elected parliament and the government and follows the reappointment this month of the country’s prime minister, whose government had resigned in January after a standoff with parliament.
Last year, Kuwait’s crown prince dissolved parliament and called early polls in a bid to end long-standing domestic political feuds that stood in the way of fiscal reform.
In September’s polls – the most inclusive in a decade – opposition members won 28 out of 50 seats, giving them a parliamentary majority. The vote marked a victory for opposition members, many of whom had stayed out of elections for the past decade because of what they claimed was executive interference with parliament.
However, Justice Mohammad bin Naji said on Sunday that the court had annulled the dissolution of parliament and canceled September’s snap elections.
“The constitutional authority of the dissolved parliament will be restored from the date of this ruling,” he said at the court hearing attended by reporters.
‘Invalidity of the electoral process’
Lawyer Nawaf Al-Yassin said the ruling followed several electoral appeals.
“The appeals relate to the invalidity of the electoral process, the decrees declaring elections and the decree dissolving the previous National Assembly,” he told AFP news agency.
Kuwait, an OPEC oil producer, bans political parties but has given its legislature more clout than comparable bodies in other Gulf monarchies.
خطاب سمو ولي العهد في ٢٢-٦-٢٠٢٢ والنطق السامي لسموه في ١٨-١٠-٢٠٢٢ أكد وبوضوح بأن اجراءات الحل والانتخابات تمت وفق القوانين والاجراءات الدستورية وحكم المحكمة اليوم يثبت بأن جميعها كانت خاطئة لذلك يجب محاسبة من قام بإبداء الرأي القانوني .. الكويت لا تستحق هذه المهازل
— صالح أحمد عاشور (@SalehAshoor) March 19, 2023
Translation: In the speech of His Highness the Crown Prince on June 22, 2022 and of his spokesperson on October 18, 2022, it was clearly stated that the dissolution and elections were done in accordance with the law and constitutional procedures. Today’s court ruling shows that they were all wrong. Therefore, it is necessary to hold to account the person who gave the legal advice… Kuwait does not deserve such farces.
Frequent political bickering has often led to cabinet reshuffles and dissolution of parliament, hindering investment and reforms to reduce the country’s heavy dependence on oil revenues.
A legislator from the dissolved assembly, Abdullah Al-Turaiji, hailed the move as “correcting the government’s mistake in dealing with parliament”.
Political stability in Kuwait has traditionally depended on cooperation between the government and parliament.
While Kuwait’s leadership has responded to some opposition demands, including pardoning political dissidents, key reform proposals, such as a state debt bill, continue to run into legislative deadlock.