Kuwait’s interior ministry said that 49 candidates, including two women, would be contesting in the parliamentary by-elections to vote in a new lawmaker. A seat in the Third Constituency was declared vacant following the death of Nabeel Al Fadhl who collapsed during a regular parliamentary session on December 22.
The lawmaker lost consciousness a few minutes after he took the floor. Doctors rushed to assist him, but he never recovered. The by-elections will be held on February 20, and candidates who decide to pull out of the race have until February 13 to withdraw their names.
Under Kuwaiti laws, candidates who wish not to participate in the elections after signing up their names must submit a letter expressing their change of plan. Candidates for the vacant seat started registering their names on January 13 after it was officially announced that by-elections would be held in the Third Constituency.
The interior ministry said it was keen on providing all facilities to ensure a smooth process of the elections. Al Fadhl was one of the most colourful lawmakers, always speaking his heart out and regularly courting controversy.
A former Kuwait Airways pilot and columnist who wrote extensively about various political issues, he was outspoken against conservatives and Islamists as well as people “with foreign agendas targeting Kuwait.” In January, Al Fadhl, alongside other lawmakers, pushed for the cancellation of a lecture by an Egyptian Salafi scholar.
Mohammad Yacoub had been reportedly invited by the organisers of “Hala February” festival to deliver a lecture. However, under pressure from the lawmakers who rejected his ideas as divisive and as a risk to Kuwait’s social unity, it was cancelled.
Al Fadhl said that the government should take action against those who invited him to Kuwait and scheduled his lecture. “I wish to know whether those who are behind this invitation will face legal action for targeting the country’s national unity,” he said.
In December, he challenged the constitutionality of an article in the Nationality Law that bans the naturalisation of non-Muslims, saying that the condition was a constitutional and legal stigma. He later provoked a storm of protests when he said he did not mind the legalisation of alcohol in the country, arguing that it was part of the local heritage.
Also in December, he called for lifting restrictions imposed one decade ago on organising concerts and musical shows in the country. “The restrictions that were imposed in 2004 to satisfy the demands of the religious lawmakers and avoid the quizzing of the then minister of information have failed,” Al Fadhl said.
“Kuwait has suffered tremendously from the negative consequences of these restrictions and the major effects include the rise of extremism, forcing several people to go to other countries on holidays and the emergence of a sense of loss among young people who keep parading with their cars to impress girls,” he said.
The information ministry should now step in and address the situation by lifting the restrictions that the government, under the pressure of the circumstances in 2004, was forced to accept, he said. Restrictions were imposed in 2004 after 31 of the parliament’s 50 lawmakers objected to a concert performed by Arab singers from the Star Academy reality show.
SOURCE : GULFNEWS