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Fears for efficacy of Kuwait democracy Campaigns call for transparency on GCC joint security agreement

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 15: Several former lawmakers and those contesting the December 2012 parliamentary elections including members of the so-called opposition ‘majority bloc’ have expressed their rejection of the ‘amended’ security agreement signed last Tuesday in Saudi Arabia by the GCC states including Kuwait saying it amounts to suppression of the freedom of expression.

They have also demanded the publication of the agreement so that ordinary citizens are aware of its contents.

Shortly before leaving for Riyadh following his participation in the GCC interior ministers’ meeting, Kuwait’s First Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah Al-Hmoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah told KUNA “The final statement of the one-day meeting includes resolutions and recommendations that would activate common security strategies and plans.

He said there was high-level security coordination among the GCC countries to face future challenges. He added, during the meeting ‘very important’ decisions were taken to address the current urgent and future challenges.

Former Speaker of the Parliament and leading opposition figure, Ahmed Al-Saadoun said he is afraid the amended security agreement may include what he termed as “an assault on people’s freedom particularly the freedom of expression in all its forms since the communiquÈ of the meeting which was held behind closed doors has yet to be made public.”

Former Liberal MP Saleh Al-Mullah has called on the government to publish the articles of the GCC security agreement “because it raises lot of deserving questions.”

Al-Mullah said anyone who reads the agreement which Kuwait had earlier refused to sign, would know the amount of constitutional infringements it contains and the size of its contradiction to the concept of the Kuwaiti democracy.

“We ask how the government could sign the agreement that offers immunity to all members of the ruling family, the ministers and their like.”

He argued “the amendment is completely unacceptable because of the constitutional violations which contradict with the freedoms and state sovereignty, especially since Kuwait had already shown its objection to about 20 articles of the 45 articles of this security agreement.”

Former opposition MP Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaei rejected the agreement outright saying “the agreement destroys the Kuwaiti Constitution. We reject it. Kuwait should not approve it.”

A source recalled Al-Tabtabaei had changed his position by opposing this agreement because initially he had strongly advocated the establishment of the ‘Gulf Union’ and had even called on Kuwait to sign the security agreement. He had even gone to the extent of criticizing Kuwait for not signing it.

However, sources have expressed their surprise at the opposition members rejecting this agreement particularly since it no longer includes the ‘extradition of suspects’ clause which was the main reason why Kuwait had refused to put its seal on the document because it contradicted its Constitution.

Third Constituency candidate Dr Adel Al-Ibrahim has requested the Minister of Interior to clearly announce the terms of GCC security agreement that has been signed recently.

He noted Kuwait was the only GCC country that had not signed the agreement in 1994 because it was in conflict with the Constitution.

Al-Ibrahim said the agreement must, like any other, respect the rights and individual and public freedoms as per Article 70 of the Constitution.

“The local scene cannot stomach more rumors and therefore signing the agreement, without revealing its conditions and it compatibility with the Constitution, will increase negative interpretations,” he explained.
He added, some may interpret the timing of the agreement as a way to protect Gulf regimes from popular demands.

Meanwhile a number of Parliament candidates are calling for the activation of efficient solutions to the ongoing problems affecting the bedoun (stateless residents) such as the immediate naturalization of those qualified with a decree of urgency.

Fifth constituency candidate Faisal Al-Hajeri said the case must be high priority in the next phase and should not be marginalized due to the serious humanitarian and social aspects it contains. He noted the case has become politicized and that Kuwait’s image in various international human rights organizations has been tarnished.

“Internal conflicts and the lack of concerted legislative and executive authorities have resulted in the inability to find radical solution to the issue,” he said.

Al-Hajeri added he will work to alleviate the sufferings of the stateless, hoping a decree of urgency is issued to naturalize as many bedoun as possible and end their sufferings by giving civil rights for those who do not qualify in a manner that preserves their dignity.

He further urged the government to be extra transparent on the issue, rejecting any temporary solutions and false promises.

Officials have said that only 34,000 bedoun out of a total of 105,000 qualify for consideration for Kuwaiti citizenship while the rest must produce their original nationality.

On her part, first constituency candidate and former lawmaker and a minister Dr Masouma Al-Mubarak said she hopes “a decree of urgency is issued to naturalize the 34,000 deserving bedoun”. She stressed priority should be given to the stateless children of Kuwaiti women.

Meanwhile, the Second Constituency candidate and former lawmaker Khalaf Dumaitheer said he does not intend to contest any position in the next National Assembly’s secretariat if elected.

“I have no ambition to run for Speaker, Deputy Speaker or Secretary. All I want is to work with everyone to serve the country and achieve the aspirations of HH the Amir,” he stated.

By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Nihal Sharaf Arab Times Staff

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