Kuwait disqualifies ex-opposition MP from election
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait on Thursday disqualified leading Islamist opposition figure and former MP Faisal al-Muslim from contesting elections next month because of a court verdict, the interior ministry said.
"It has been decided to disqualify Faisal al-Muslim from contesting the national assembly election of (February 2) 2012, for not fulfilling the legal conditions for candidates," the interior ministry said in a statement.
Muslim was the first Kuwaiti MP to question a head of government in parliament when he grilled former premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in December 2009 on charges he issued a $700,000 cheque to a former MP.
During the questioning, held in a secret parliamentary session, Muslim displayed a copy of the cheque to prove his point.
The local bank through which the cheque was issued sued Muslim, a strong government critic, on charges of revealing classified banking secrets that risked its reputation and business.
The former lawmaker was convicted of the charge and fined him $720 several months ago, and the appeals court upheld the ruling on Wednesday.
Under Kuwaiti electoral law, people convicted on charges relating to a lack of honesty or integrity are barred from contesting parliamentary elections unless they have been rehabilitated.
The interior ministry said it fully respected court rulings.
The Kuwaiti opposition strongly criticised the interior ministry decision as "politically motivated," describing it as a threat to Kuwait's democratic system and a breach of the constitution.
In a joint statement, 22 former opposition MPs and candidates said the Kuwaiti constitution provides full guarantees for MPs to express their views in parliament without fear of being prosecuted or penalised.
The leftist Progressive Movement said the decision was a "dangerous precedent," a breach of the constitution and a violation of parliamentary immunity.
Muslim's lawyer Jaber al-Dubaie said he plans to file an urgent petition to the court to annul the decision.
Earlier in the week, the interior ministry, which supervises the polls, disqualified 14 candidates for different reasons.