Kuwait Elections: Clampdown on Campaign Finance to Curb Political Funding

Observers estimate the average spending by a candidate in Kuwait to be around one million dollars (KUNA)
Observers estimate the average spending by a candidate in Kuwait to be around one million dollars (KUNA)
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Kuwait Elections: Clampdown on Campaign Finance to Curb Political Funding

Observers estimate the average spending by a candidate in Kuwait to be around one million dollars (KUNA)
Observers estimate the average spending by a candidate in Kuwait to be around one million dollars (KUNA)

A former candidate for Kuwait’s National Assembly (Parliament) has complained about the high costs of election campaigns, and voiced their frustration by having to run multiple times in just a few years, especially given Kuwait’s unstable political climate.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat under the conditions of anonymity, the former candidate raised concerns about the financial burden of campaigning, saying it’s becoming impossible to compete with rivals who have strong backing.

This hopeful entered the electoral race twice, first in the annulled 2022 elections, and again in 2023, failing to secure victory on both occasions.

“The financial expenses have drained me; I am no longer able to keep up with competitors who enjoy support from influential parties,” said the ex-candidate.

This highlights ongoing issues with monitoring campaign finances in Kuwait’s elections. Despite efforts to pass laws regulating campaign funding, progress has been slow.

The "Election Commission" law could have played a role in monitoring campaign finances and ensuring fairness among candidates, especially by setting a cap on campaign expenditures.

Despite efforts by parliament, civil society organizations, and the Anti-Corruption Authority to push forward the enactment and implementation of a law regulating election campaign financing, after parliament’s attempts to legislate it for years, it was only passed into law in 2023.

However, it was subsequently suspended by decree.

A legal expert explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that according to Law No. 120 of 2023 (suspended by Law No. 4 of 2024), the “Election Commission” is mandated to establish rules for campaign financing upon its establishment.

On August 1, 2023, the Kuwaiti National Assembly approved a draft law "Establishing a General Election Commission" to oversee elections, regulate the electoral process, and be under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice.

The law stipulates that the executive regulations should be issued within 6 months from its effective date, defining rules for advertising, campaigns, electoral expenses, resources, media obligations, and the participation of civil society organizations in monitoring elections.

On February 21, 2024, the Cabinet issued Decree No. 4 of 2024, temporarily suspending the implementation of Law No. 120 of 2023 concerning National Assembly elections.

Campaign costs for candidates start at around 150,000 Kuwaiti dinars (about half a million dollars), but many spend much more, sometimes up to a million dollars, especially those facing tough competition.

Some candidates receive financial support from merchants, businesspeople, and connections.

Without laws to monitor campaign finances, efforts to address political funding are insufficient.

There are accusations of politically influential individuals meddling in elections to control the parliament by funding specific candidates or supporting others to weaken potential rivals.

Lawyer Areej Abdulrahman Hamada says many Kuwaitis are worried about the influence of money in the upcoming 2024 National Assembly elections.

She's concerned about candidates spending a lot on their campaigns, even though their finances seem ordinary.

“Campaign funding is crucial as it can sway election results and undermine the fairness of the process,” Hamada told Asharq Al-Awsat, urging strict oversight to ensure transparency and prevent illegitimate influences on voters’ choices.



Oman Police: Attackers in Wadi al-Kabir Were 3 Omani Brothers

The attack killed six people. Reuters
The attack killed six people. Reuters
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Oman Police: Attackers in Wadi al-Kabir Were 3 Omani Brothers

The attack killed six people. Reuters
The attack killed six people. Reuters

The three gunmen who shot and killed six people in Oman this week were all Omani nationals, police said on Thursday.

The shooting took place in the Wadi al-Kabir neighborhood of Oman's capital Muscat.

The Royal Oman Police said in a statement the three gunmen were brothers and "were killed due to their insistence on resisting security personnel.”

The statement said that police investigations had indicated the three gunmen were "influenced by misguided ideas.”

The six people killed by the gunmen included a police officer responding to the attack.