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KUWAIT CITY, Oct 9: The debate over the governmental decree on postponing the inaugural session of the newly elected National Assembly from Oct 11 to Oct 18 continues. The opposing parties are arguing if the resigned government has the right to issue such a decree, if Article 106 of the Constitution is applicable for such postponement and if this is a violation of Article 87 of the Constitution.
Article 87: “To the exclusion of the provisions of the two preceding Articles, the Amir shall convene the National Assembly to its first meeting after the general elections within two weeks of the date of the conclusion of those elections. While complying with the provision of the preceding Article, should no summoning Decree be promulgated within that period, the Assembly shall be deemed convened to meet in the morning of the day following the two weeks mentioned above. Where the date appointed for the National Assembly’s convention at that session is later than the annual appointment date stipulated in Article 86 of the Constitution, the term defined in Article 85 shall be reduced by the difference between the two appointment dates mentioned.”
Article 106: “The Amir may, by Decree, prorogue the National Assembly’s session for a period not exceeding one month. Prorogation shall not be repeated in the same annual session save with the Assembly’s consent and for once only. The prorogation period shall not be reckoned in the session’s term.”
Former Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim pointed out that as per Article 87, the Assembly should meet on Oct 16 unless a decree is issued to hold the meeting before Oct 14. He said Article 106 is irrelevant now, because the parliamentary term has yet to start.
MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari argued Article 106 cannot be invoked prior to the enforcement of Article 87. He added the decree on postponing a parliamentary session is unconstitutional if the speaker, deputy speaker and members of committees have yet to be elected. He stressed the decree on postponing the inaugural session of the Assembly is unconstitutional; hence, the need for the Assembly to convene as per Article 87.
MP Muhannad Al-Sayer explained the issuance of the decree to form the new government means the caretaker government has no authority to issue a decree on postponing the inaugural session and the new government cannot take such a step as well, because it has yet to take the constitutional oath. He went on to say that Article 106 has been misinterpreted; clarifying the article states that suspension of the session for more than one month requires the approval of the Assembly. He asserted this article is not applicable at this point; considering the speaker, deputy speaker or members of the Assembly Office have not been elected yet.
MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf said it is now time to change the legal advisory team at the Cabinet for the errors it committed; particularly the violation of Article 87. He then emphasized the need to enforce this article. MP Khalid Al-Otaibi urged the government to withdraw the decree and rectify its mistake by enforcing Article 87. He pointed out that postponing the inaugural session as per Article 87 must not exceed two weeks starting from the day after the election. He clarified that if the two-week period ends on a weekend or holiday, the inaugural session should be held on the next working day.
MP Hassan Jowhar addressed His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah: “The specified dates for holding Assembly sessions must be respected. Adopting a policy based on a controversial interpretation of constitutional articles makes the situation more ambiguous. You should not lose the sense of optimism you gave to citizens. Some parties are pushing Your Highness towards an early confrontation with the Assembly. Are you ready for such a confrontation?”
MP Obaid Al-Wasmi affirmed the inaugural session will be held as scheduled — on Oct 11. He said the suspension of sessions is possible only if the parliamentary term already started. In a related development, the Five MPs Parliamentary Bloc — consisting of Hassan Jowhar, Bader Al-Mula, Abdullah Al-Mudaf, Muhannad Al-Sayer and Mehalhal Al-Mudaf — issued a statement urging His Highness the Prime Minister to immediately form the new government and for the latter to take the constitutional oath in front of Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah; considering the decree on postponing the inaugural session of the Assembly was issued at a time the new government has yet to take the constitutional oath. They also pointed out that when the Amiri Decree on forming the new government was issued, the previous executive authority no longer serves as caretaker government; hence, the decree issued by the new government is null and void.
These MPs stressed the need to consider the specified dates for the Assembly to convene as per Article 87. On the other hand, Law Professor and former Dean of the College of Law at Kuwait University Professor Adel Al- Tabtabaie affirmed the constitutionality of postponing the inaugural session of the Assembly based on Article 106. He said this article does not differentiate between postponement of the inaugural session and postponing sessions after the inauguration. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff