Govt said to discard law on blasphemy Parliament lifts MP Al-Fadhl’s immunity

KUWAIT CITY, June 5: Speaker of Parliament Ahmad Al-Saadoun adjourned the Assembly’s session early on Tuesday due to lack of quorum to vote on decisions.

Deliberations on tribal MP Saifi Al-Saifi’s grilling request against Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Lt General Ahmed Abdul-Latif Al-Rujeib was therefore halted amidst reports that the Cabinet will request its postponement during the upcoming session. The Cabinet had stated that Al-Saifi’s grilling is unconstitutional.

MP Faisal Al-Mislem assured that Al-Rujeib will request the postponement of both Al-Saifi and MP Riyadh Al-Adsani’s grilling requests for two weeks. While Al-Saifi said he refuses the referral of his grilling to Constitutional Court or the Legal and Legislative Committee if the government plans on requesting so.

Heated arguments took place between majority and minority MPs during Tuesday’s session on requests by the Public Prosecution to lift the immunity of opposition MPs Musallam Al-Barrak and Obaid Al-Wassmi as well as liberal MP Nabil Al-Fadhl. Minority lawmakers accused the legal committee and the Majority Bloc of being biased in their decisions regarding immunity requests.

The Legal and Legislative Committee had rejected the prosecution’s request to remove the immunities of Al-Barrak and Al-Wassmi, while approving the same against Al-Fadhl. Thirty-one MPs voted against lifting Al-Wassmi’s immunity while 19 MPs voted for it, including Cabinet ministers. Al-Barrak, however, scrapped by with 28 votes to keep his immunity and 25 votes against him.

Al-Fadhl’s immunity was lifted with 38 votes in light of an audio/visual misdemeanor case filed by Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani.

The prosecution requested the removal of Al-Wassmi’s immunity pertaining to one of the state security cases filed against him, in which he was accused of inciting upheaval during an infamous seminar at the diwaniya of MP Jamaan Al-Harbash in 2010. Majority lawmakers revisited the events of Dec 8, 2010 when Special Forces clashed with gatherers with batons and injured a number of MPs and arrested Al-Wassmi.

The MP lamented that the accusations against him were fabricated and were immediately viewed by the prosecution, while the cases he had filed against Interior Ministry officers have not yet been reviewed. “I hope the government apologizes to the Kuwaiti people for fabricating state decisions and the events of diwan Al-Harbash,” he stated.

Minority MPs questioned the decision of the legal panel to refuse the prosecution’s request pertaining to Al-Wassmi as the case is related to matters of national security. MP Marzooq Al-Ghanim said that those accused among lawmakers should face the court and defend themselves to settle the matters of cases against them.

Meanwhile, a row took place between Al-Fadhl and opposition MPs Al-Barrak and Abdulrahman Al-Anjari when Al-Barrak made defamatory statements against former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser
Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah and former Parliament Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi. Al-Khorafi had filed a case against Al-Barrak when the latter made accusations against him during a gathering at Al-Irada Square.
The Assembly further approved to fast-track the final accounts report of Kuwait Airways to enable its privatization.

On another note, the government reportedly signed off on a decree that discards the law on the execution of those who commit blasphemy. According to parliament sources, Minister of Awqaf Jamal Al-Shihab has decided to not resign after strongly supporting the law and assuring it won’t be returned.

Meanwhile, MP Abdulhamid Dashti stated the minority MPs will request the Assembly on Wednesday to discuss the case of K-Dow and to form a probing committee that does not include members of the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) or the Popular Action Bloc (PAB).

The speaker adjourned the session following a half-hour break for prayer. “Even though the quorum is sufficient to resume the session, it is not enough to vote on decisions. Therefore, the session is adjourned to tomorrow,” he stated. At least 22 MPs must be present within Abdullah Al-Salem Hall to hold a session, while at least 33 lawmakers are needed to hold voting rounds.

By: Nihal Sharaf Arab Times Staff

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