|03KUWAIT2993||2003-07-07 16:26:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Kuwait|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002993
1. SUMMARY: Kuwaiti media report that liberal incumbents
and members of Kuwait's Islamic Constitutional Movement were
the biggest losers in the July 5 parliamentary elections
that resulted in nearly half of all members losing their
seats. Most commentators believe that acting Prime Minister
Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad will form the new government rather
than the ailing Crown Prince (and nominal Prime Minister)
Sheikh Saad, with one daily declaring in a banner headline:
"Sabah Al-Ahmad Prime Minister." A mock election for women
by the Kuwait Journalists' Association was held on election
day, drawing over 900 women "voters."
In contrast with the pre-election period, only one editorial
repeats allegations of vote-buying by the government. Other
commentators argue that the election results reflect the
victory of personal over national interests, with one
criticizing a tendency to vote along tribal lines rather
than according to the merits of the candidates. Another
notes that despite the liberation of Iraq, Islamist
candidates gained seats while liberals lost. One
conservative writer states that liberals risk further
isolation if they continue to adopt "deviant voices that
fight religion and attack scholars."
Several liberal commentators argue that with Islamists
gaining seats in the National Assembly, progress will
suffer, as "religion is an obstacle to development." END
2. News Stories: All newspapers report that the most
prominent loser in the 2003 elections was the liberal
movement, which media reports indicate lost nearly half of
its seats in parliament. Most newspapers attribute the loss
to the liberals' alliance with the government. The Islamic
Constitutional Movement (Muslim Brotherhood) won lost four
of its six seats, including that of its leader, MP Mubarak
Al-Duwaila. The ICM loss of seats is attributed to their
inability to coordinate with the Islamic Salafi movement.
The Salafi movement was able to increase their
representation to three seats, and pro-government candidates
also made gains.
According to Al-Qabas on July 7, an Amiri Decree to
commission the new government is expected within the next 48
hours. The new National Assembly will reconvene on July 19.
All newspapers speculate over who will form the new
government: Crown Prince (and nominal Prime Minister) Sheikh
Saad, or his Acting Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed.
Most pundits believe Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed will form the new
government, and Al-Qabas declares in a front-page banner
headline "Sabah Al-Ahmed Prime Minister."
Several papers and editorials argue that the 2003 election
results prove that tribal loyalties won out over political
and religious affiliations.
All newspapers report that on July 5 the Kuwait Journalist's
Association held a mock election for women in which over 900
women voted for MP candidates, with liberal candidates
receiving the most "votes."
Four Arabic dailies prominently published Ambassador Richard
Jones' Fourth of July statement in which he praised
democracy in Kuwait and called on Kuwaitis. On July 7, Al-
Qabas carries photographs of Ambassador Jones congratulating
winners of the election.
Al-Qabas reports that most political sources believe that
the position of National Assembly speaker will go to former
Speaker and independent, pro-government millionaire
businessman, Jassim Al-Khorafi.
Candidate Basil Al-Jassir is contesting the results of the
election in his district, alleging that fraud was involved,
Al-Watan reports on July 6 that the Minister of Interior has
ordered the court marshal of a number of Ministry of
Interior officers after discovering their interference in
the election process.
3. "What Comes After the Elections?"
Conservative Dr. Sami Khalifa wrote in independent Al-Rai Al-
Aam (7/7): "The new Parliamentarians must now focus of three
issues: 1) They must force the government to change its
negative and provocative method in dealing with them; 2) The
necessity to adopt clear and serious political agendas that
could lead to uniting the parliamentary blocks, whether
liberal or Islamic; 3) The necessity of adopting draft laws
to restructure the relationship between the government and
Parliament by canceling the participation of the government
in any voting that takes place in the Parliament."
4. "A Reading in Patriotism"
Dr. Khalid Ahmad Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Watan
(7/7): "The liberal movement is passing through a serious
curve. If this movement continues to. adopt deviant voices
that fight religion and attack scholars, it will end up
forgotten by the nation's conscience and out of the
Parliament. However, if this movement is led by members who
adopt democracy and respect the nation's [values,
traditions] doctrine and Islam, then people will grant them
another opportunity to represent them in a new National
5. "The National Assembly's Surprise"
Liberal Chairman of the Political Science Department at
Kuwait University, Dr. Shamlan Al-Essa wrote in independent
Al-Seyassah (7/7): "The surprise in the recent elections
was the fall of the liberal and the Islamic powers. The
biggest winner in the elections was the government. [M]any
of the new MPs do not have new ideas or initiatives because
most of them come from tribes or clans or belong to the
[Islamist] Salafi movement. This means that they will not
lead any change but will rather wait for the government to
offer reform projects. What was also striking in the
elections was the re-election of those elected Ministers
[Ministers chosen from the body of elected MPs] who offered
services for their constituents through breaching rules and
regulations. The strong return of the elected Ministers
means that the Kuwaiti voter is no longer interested in
principles, values, ethics and the interest of Kuwait. His
main concern is to achieve his own interests and others can
go to hell."
Liberal Dr. Ahmed Al-Baghdadi wrote in independent Al-
Seyassah (7/7): "Change is natural. A lack of change in life
is the death of life itself. [An ideology based on] religion
is an obstacle to development. A human being can be a good
Muslim without adopting a religious ideology. Islamic groups
are paying dearly for attempting to confront the coming
globalization. The Kuwaiti people are mistaken if they
believe that the current situation will be in their
interests. They are mistaken if they replace the State's
institutions and the values of constitutional democracy with
tribal. relations. It is our responsibility to pave the road
for the new generation and this can only be achieved by
separating political ideology from religious ideology.
Breaking this link is necessary to preserve the right of
individuals to choose their religion."
7. "Dues of the Results of the Elections"
Liberal former Ahmed Al-Rubei wrote in independent Al-Qabas
(7/7): "There is a forthcoming young generation that wants
change and have proven themselves in various electoral
districts. Our duty is to start a dialogue [with these young
MPs] to stress to them that the whole issue is not just a
matter of change for the sake of change. We must stress that
there are demands for democracy, foremost among them being
honesty, foresight and the belief that moral and national
principles must not be compromised under the pretext of
change. [This election] has been a failure for all parties
and movements without exception, and this is a matter that
deserves a study. There has been popular disappointment,
which led the people to react without thinking and without
looking into the future."
8. "Discrepancies That Need Reading and Analysis"
Former Secretary General of the Kuwait Democratic Forum,
Ahmad Al-Dayeen wrote in independent Al-Rai Al-Aam (7/7):
"The Kuwaiti voter has submitted his ballot for tribal and
family considerations rather than political considerations.
He was influenced by personal relations more than the
political stance of the candidates. He has benefited from
those candidates who gave out `favors and services,' and
those capable of buying votes in cash. [In addition,] after
the September 11 attacks and the rise of the American role
in the region, many believed that liberal power would be
strengthened and Islamic groups contained, especially those
who rejected the war on Iraq. Rather, we see that the number
of liberals in the new Parliament has decreased while the
numbers of the [Islamist] Salafi movement have increased."