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MPs elect committee members
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 4: The Prime Minister and his Cabinet swore-in and took the constitutional oath at the start of National Assembly’s ordinary session on Tuesday, to commence work within the Assembly according to Article 91 of the Constitution. A number of Parliament members walked away from the session, in protest at government’s constitutional oath procedures. Article 91 of the Constitution states that before taking up his functions at the Assembly or at its committees, a member of the National Assembly shall, at a public meeting of the Assembly, take the constitutional oath.
An Amiri order on November 23 decreed the appointment of Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah as Prime Minister and tasked him with forming new Cabinet. Last Tuesday, an Amiri decree was issued appointing the new cabinet of 15 ministers, Headed by Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The National Assembly agreed on several letters in its regular session on Tuesday. The Parliament agreed to delegate Speaker Marzouq Ali Al- Ghanim to talk MP Yousif Al- Fadhala out of resignation. The National Assembly approved a request by MP Saleh Al-Mutairi to assign a committee to study recent murders and find solutions “to this phenomenon” from legal, religious, social and psychological perspectives. Also during the session, the Parliament approved MP Abdulaziz Al-Saqabi’s request to build labor towns and ensure workers’ rights in line with relevant international conventions. A letter by MP Adnan Abdulsamad was also blessed by the parliament to issue a new law to establish a public company to observe increase of meat prices and combat commodities’ monopoly.
The National Assembly examined letters by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in which he expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the MPs for congratulating him for his first anniversary of assuming power and his safe return to the country after a private vacation. The Parliament also agreed on several letters tackling interior affairs and laws. The grilling motion, filed by MP Hamdan Al-Azmi against Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah, is mainly based on five aspects.
They encompass “involving women in army”, “winking at State Audit Bureau’s remarks on a Eurofighter deal”, “failing to cooperate with regulatory agencies or replying parliamentary queries”, “failing to safeguard state-owned lands”, and “noncompliance with cabinet decrees on recruitments”. MP Al-Azmi submitted his interpellation request against the defense minister during the National Assembly (Parliament) session held on Tuesday. The motion is based on Article 100 of the Kuwaiti Constitution, which allows MPs to address grilling requests against the prime minister and Cabinet ministers in their capacities as such.
Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim announced he has received an interpellation request from Al-Azmi against the defense minister, noting that it will be considered during the coming ordinary sitting. On his part, the minister said at the end of the parliament debate that he stands prepared to refute the aspects of the motion. The National Assembly elected on Tuesday committee members to occupy vacancies for the second regular session of the 16th legislative term. The Parliament recommended MP Khalil Al-Saleh as a complementary member in the Committee for Internal Affairs and Defense and MP Nasser Al-Dosari as a complementary member in the Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee. Kuwait’s Parliament named MP Osama Al-Shaheen as a member in the Public Utilities Committee and MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf in the Environmental Committee. It also elected MP Homoud Al-Azmi a member in the Parliamentary Budgets and Final Accounts Committee.
After this, the new government took the constitutional oath and then Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim called for voting on the minutes of the legislative sessions starting from April 16, 2021. This was the subject of dispute between the opposition and Al-Ghanim. MP Thamer Al-Suwait cited the request of several MPs to amend the minutes of the session held on March 30,2021; specifically the removal of phrases pertaining to the request of Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid to postpone the filed and planned grilling motions against him until the end of the second parliamentary round. In response, Al-Ghanim pointed out that Article 93 of the Assembly Decree states only the MPs present at the session are allowed to submit a request for amendment of the minutes of said session.
Once approved by the MPs through voting, the minutes can no longer be amended as the case of the session in question as its minutes were approved on April 13, 2021. On the other hand, MP Abdulkareem Al- Kandari said the above mentioned article applies to ordinary situations — when there is no violation against the Constitution. He is afraid that the unconstitutional statements about the request of Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaild to postpone the grilling motions against him might be used as basis to repeat such violation in the future. MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa urged Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaild to appologize for the mistake committed on March 30, 2021. MP Hassan Jawhar accused Al-Ghanim of violating the decree when he did not include the request to amend the minutes of the session held on March 30, 2021 in the agenda. Al-Ghanim stressed that he complied with the decree by rejecting the request as it is not in line with the decree.
He reiterated that changes are not allowed once the minutes are approved. He added the minutes record everything stated in a session —whether right or wrong. MP Hesham Al-Saleh said the removal of some parts of the minutes is a form of forgery. He emphasized the need to retain facts in the minutes as reference for the future generations to know what really happened.
MP Mehalhal Al-Mudaf argued that the request to postpone the grilling motions is a political crime; hence, the need to delete the request from the minutes even after its approval. Al-Ghanim asserted that the Assembly voted on the issue on April 13, 2021 when 28 MPs voted in favor of deleting the request while 32 voted against. He also quoted the late constitutional expert Othman Khalil Othman as saying that the MPs have the right to rectify errors in case the recorded statement does not match what was actually said in the session, but it is not allowed to change the meaning.
The Speaker then moved to voting on the minutes of the session on April 16, 2021 and onwards. Out of the 59 attendees, 35 voted on approval of the minutes while 24 voted against. Despite the strong objection of several opposition MPs including Thamer Al- Suwait, Muhammad Al-Mutair and Khalid Al-Otaibi; Al-Ghanim continued with the incoming letters as follows:
■ Formation of a fact-finding committee to investigate some MPs accused of corruption. This was rejected because it violates the principle of separation of powers. Investigating MPs accused of corruption is the task of concerned institutions like the Public Prosecution and Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha).
■ Resignation of MP Yousef Al-Fadalah. The MPs approved the proposal for Al- Ghanim to persuade Al-Fadalah to withdraw his resignation.
■ MP Abdulaziz Al-Saqaabi’s letter on assigning the Public Utilities Committee to determine the reasons behind the delayed establishment of labor residential cities (approved).
■ Letter of MP Saleh Zeib Al-Mutairi on assigning the Negative Phenomena Committee to study the causes of the increasing number of murder cases and present solutions (approved).
■ Letters of MPs Abdulaziz Al-Saqaabi and Fayez Al-Jomhour on assigning the Housing Affairs Committee to follow up the housing projects in Saad Al-Abdullah, Mutlaa and South Khairan (approved).
■ Letter of MP Adnan Abdulsamad on the establishment of a new livestock company (approved). Abdulsamad pointed out this company will put an end to the monopoly of livestock market and reduce prices. He said the government should have implemented the relevant law, instead of returning it to the Assembly to nulify it.
■ Letter of MP Mehlhal Al-Mudaf on assigning the Public Funds Protection Committee to follow up recovery of the money that the Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) deposited in Lebanese banks. Abdulsamad voiced objection, calling on the government to consider the bad economic conditions in Lebanon. He added Egypt borrowed almost KD4 billion, but no one has called for repayment even if the Egyptian economy has improved. Al-Mudaf then pointed out that Kuwait has provided a lot of support for Lebanon and it is now time for the country to support its citizens. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff and Agencies