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Ex-speaker Rashed submits reform proposals to Amir – Female activist Saadoun sentenced to 3 years in jail

KUWAIT: Former National Assembly Speaker Ali Al-Rashed said yesterday that he submitted to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah proposals for reforms prepared by a group of experts sponsored by his group, the Independent Path. “I was honored with a meeting with HH the Amir and HH the Crown Prince and presented to them the charter of reforms by the Independent Path.

The reforms were prepared by a number of elite experts,” Rashed, who was the speaker of the 2012 assembly before it was dissolved, wrote on his Twitter account. He did not reveal the contents of the proposals but said that the details of the proposed reforms will be made public at a Ramadan party on Saturday. Rashed, who resigned from the National Assembly last year in protest against the lawmakers’ rejection of a grilling against the prime minister, has been calling for national reconciliation that should involve opposition groups to overcome the political deadlock in the country.

In the meantime, Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair appears to be headed for a showdown with the National Assembly after a number of MPs demanded explanation from him over his accusations and some of them threatened to grill him. Last month, Omair charged that some big contractors and executives in the oil sector did not like his appointment to the post. A number of MPs have demanded that Omair should name those contractors alluding to suspected corruption.

About 30 MPs then signed a memo demanding a debate in the National Assembly over the issue and MP Ahmad Al-Qhudhaibi vowed that if Omair fails to provide answers, he will file to grill him. MP Youssef Al-Zalzalah said that MPs want Omair to name those big contractors and those involved in corruption in order to be able to help him during the debate.

One positive signal however came from MP Khalaf Dumaitheer who said yesterday that he has withdrawn his name from the 30 MPs demanding a debate, saying that the minister’s statements have been highly inflated. Dumaitheer said that the minister has not mentioned names in his statements and just made a general reference to the issue and accordingly should be assisted to rectify any errors.

MP Mansour Al-Dhafiri meanwhile said that the National Assembly is expected to approve in the second and final votes two laws regulating the affairs of domestic helpers in the country. He said that the two draft laws have been slightly amended and will be sent back to the National Assembly for the vote. In another development, head of the public funds protection committee MP Abdullah Al-Turaifi said the committee has recommended that the assembly should refer the finances of the 16th Gulf Football Cup tournament to the public prosecution for suspected irregularities. He said that the committee has also recommended that the 23rd Gulf Cup due to be hosted by Kuwait later this year should be handled by the ministry of sports and youth instead of the Kuwait Football Federation. National Assembly Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem also said that the Assembly has received the government’s draft law on the independence of the judiciary, but added that it will not be approved in the Assembly this term before complete agreement with the government.

The criminal court yesterday sentenced human rights activist Rana Jassem Al-Saadoun to three years in jail for criticizing HH the Amir by repeating parts of a speech made by leading opposition figure Mussallam Al-Barrak. The ruling was issued in absentia as Saadoun is currently in Lebanon. Lawyers said that the harsh sentence was issued because Saadoun was not present. Barrak delivered a speech at a public rally on October 15, 2012 to warn against the planned amendment of the electoral law. He was sentenced to five years in jail but the term was later reduced to two years.

By B Izzak

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This article was published on 22/06/2015