SEVERAL internal political crises have occurred since the inception of parliamentary life in Kuwait in 1963. The longest and most complex of these crises occurred in December 1964, which was considered to be the first test for the young democractic state, especially since it lasted until March 1965.
At that time, this crisis was seemingly known as the “Article No. 131 crisis”, although the real target was the people in the ministerial formation whom the Parliament did not like.
Even after the resignation of the government of the Prime Minister at that time the late Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem and the appointment of the late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad as the acting Prime Minister, the problem persisted.
The acting prime minister had to travel to India to personally deliver the message to the Amir of Kuwait at that time the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem, who was in India on holiday.
Upon his return to the country, the late Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem recited at the airport several times an old Arab poem which translates to – “Matters are given to resourceful people if fixable, or else, the evil ones take charge. There is no prosperity in a society where ignorant ones prevail.”
The late Amir perused all the issues at hand and decided that the parliamentary demands were sound. He therefore did not dissolve the Parliament even though the government was eager for this.
With this, Kuwait folded the crisis of the “30 MPs” and parliamentary life resumed. However, the matter did not last for long, as another crisis erupted in 1967 after allegations of widespread vote rigging. This was also a new test for this young democracy.
The conflict between the government and the Parliament reached its climax in 1976, and the decision to dissolve the latter and suspend some articles of the Constitution was taken. This crisis ended in 1981.
Today, with the new Parliament being formed, there is a need to review the development of parliamentary life in the country, and how crises reproduce when the parliamentary opposition is strong and intransigent to impose certain conditions that are inconsistent with reality.
This is what transpired in 1986 when the Parliament was dissolved after the escalation of crisis between the two authorities. At the time, the government resorted to what was known as “deflating the crisis” after it was unable to control the Parliament, so it suspended the constitution until after the invasion.
The scene today seems closer to those crises, especially what happened in 1964 and 1986. However, the difference is that the large parliamentary bloc, which was announced a few days ago, presented a set of demands, some of which are popular, but some do not express the will of the voters, especially comprehensive amnesty, as if it was the only problem that the country suffers from. It will be like a large mine that the two authorities will face very soon, and it will be a matter of dispute that neither of them will get out of it intact.
In the last two years of the life of the previous Parliament, this proposal turned into a multi-headed struggle, not only between the government and the Parliament, but also among the representatives themselves. Some of them wanted it to cover a group that was fleeing abroad from final judicial rulings, while some of them wanted amnesty for a group of terrorists even though there was evidence and proof of their preparation for a major security work. The government believed that amnesty is granted and not imposed.
Kuwaitis today do not see this as an urgent demand, as the economic situation is more important. The problem of loans and insolvency imposes itself on everyone, as well as the amendment of the law on electronic crimes. It includes reducing the social militancy caused by the previous parliaments when they left everything in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamists and others who sought to control people even in their homes. Add to this is the issue of segregation that violates Kuwait’s cultural and social heritage, to close the country and to pass laws of a racist nature.
In the current Parliament, there are 31 tribal MPs, elites who hold higher degrees, and others who have sufficient experience in parliamentary practice. All of them have enough education that qualify them to approach popular issues and avoid the parade in the Abdullah Al-Salem Chamber. Therefore they must realize well that any adventures in the issues that concern the interests of the people will have dire consequences, starting with a cycle of absurd escalation, and perhaps reaching the dissolution of the Parliament and suspension of the Constitution.
Therefore, a mutual language of dialogue between the two authorities must lead to addressing the most urgent files, in order not to allow political immaturity to overwhelm the parliamentary practice and governmental work, which could add to the country’s problems.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times