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Wednesday , February 8 2023

Marzouq Al-Ghanim: ‘If time doesn’t bow to you, bow to it’

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THE parliamentary life in the country has gone through many twists and turns, especially in its early stages due to the nature of political practice that was unfamiliar before democracy was introduced as the theme of the state.

That period was characterized by acute confrontations, especially when the first elected Speaker of the National Assembly the late Abdulaziz Al-Saqer had resigned due to government intransigence, the attempts to overthrow the constitution, and the differences between the members of the ruling family, and their impact on the legislative authority.

The resignation of one of the men who drafted the Constitution was nothing but a wake-up call for those who should have been better aware of the dangers of democracy eroding if the Constitution continued to be overlooked.

That is why the late Al-Saqer was clear in his preamble to the letter of resignation in warning against this.

This was not an isolated crisis that the speakership of the National Assembly witnessed.

From that moment, the crisis adopted a severe character until 1986 with the suspension of the Constitution and the National Assembly, followed by the liberation of Kuwait when the parliamentary-governmental conflict reached its peak. It had prompted the late Jassem Al-Kharafi to retire from political life in 2011 and leave the speakership of the National Assembly.

He was succeeded by Ahmed Al-Saadoun, who also chose to reluctantly retire in 2012 and not vie for a parliamentary seat that year after the endorsement of the one-vote system. This was due to the fact that Al-Saadoun felt time was not in his favor. It was also in response to the pressure from his supporters to refrain from running.

Today, the scene is repeating itself but with different tools. Marzouk Al-Ghanim’s announcement not to run for elections or to declare his absence from the parliamentary scene, which he referred as “interim”, literally means that the man is acting on the popular saying – “If time doesn’t bow to you, you should bow to it”.

During the past nine years of his speakership, Al-Ghanim had the final say in many matters. In fact, he sometimes played the role of foreign minister, especially in regional and international situations, such as tearing up the so-called “Deal of the Century” and his positions in international forums, as if he had the green light from the political leadership at that time, and that the “needle and thread” were in his hands.

Because of this, there was a fierce parliamentary opposition against him due to his unilateral decision. This was clearly evident in the last four years when he had allied with Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled. This alliance had caused the formation of a large parliamentary opposition, which led to the most acute vertical division that Kuwait ever witnessed and caused delay in the adoption of important laws and projects.

Subsequently, the opposition went on to entrench itself behind the slogan “the departure of the prime minister and the speaker”. The political and parliamentary factions launched several campaigns that were fueled by the major errors made by the Speaker of the National Assembly, as well as the Prime Minister and eventually paralyzed the country.

Time does not repeat itself … As the earth revolves, the days move forward, especially after the great changes that the country witnessed against the background of the historic Amiri speech delivered by His Highness the Crown Prince and the Deputy Amir on the quest for the advancement of the country, and to avoid returning to the era of parliamentary ferocity and government inaction that characterized the era of Marzouq Al-Ghanim’s parliament during which the people were the victims.

There is a lesson to learn in the pensioners’ crisis as to what that stage was like, and the game of political and parliamentary blackmail that was practiced in the most horrific manner.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times