Kuwait's Revolving Door of Corruption

As Kuwait gears up for elections in the wake of a corruption scandal, some 270 parliamentary candidates have open legal cases against them

Contact Editor
Gabe Kahn.,

Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al Sabah
Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al Sabah
White House Photo

Kuwait is gearing up for new elections in the aftermath of the fall of Sheikh Nasser al-Muhammad's government in a corruption scandal and an ongoing vote-buying probe - but will a new government change anything?

According to Kuwait's daily An-Nahar, more than two-thirds of the candidates in Kuwait's coming parliament elections have legal cases pending against them.

The Justice Ministry, An-Nahar says, has submitted a list of 270 candidates who have pending legal cases prepared to run in the elections scheduled for February 2 before they are formally accepted.

The country's caretaker cabinet will be looking into the cases and is expected make a decision on the issue late on Monday.

Sheikh Nasser was accused of plundering public coffers to fill his private foreign bank accounts - and of purchasing the votes of at least 13 lawmakers in order to ensure votes in the nation's 50-member legislative body went his way.

In all, some 300 million dollars has gone missing from Kuwait's treasury.

Observers say Sheikh Nasser's resignation does not necessarily herald the end of his political career in Kuwait as he has resigned five times since 2006. Parliament has been dissolved three times since 2006 as well.

Instead, they note, should it prove impossible to form a new government after the coming elections then Kuwait's constitution stipulates the previous government - that of Sheikh Nasser - will be reconstituted.

The current elections have 389 Kuwaitis, including 29 women, making a bid for parliament. Candidates have until January 25 to pull out of the race that promises to be closely contested.

Tribal support remains crucial in some constituencies - with Islamists pressing to reinforce their gains in the last elections.

Around 400,000 Kuwaitis are scheduled to cast their ballots next month.