Committee meeting on jailed MPs aborted over no-shows

Opposition blasts absent pro-govt lawmakers

KUWAIT: A meeting of the National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee scheduled to discuss the issue of the two jailed lawmakers could not be held yesterday because four pro-government MPs, who are members of the seven-MP committee, did not attend. Opposition lawmakers accused the pro-government MPs of deliberately boycotting the meeting in a bid to prevent the panel from discussing the issue of opposition MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, who were handed jail terms along with over 60 activists for storming the Assembly building in Nov 2011.

Opposition MPs Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei, Mohammad Al-Dallal and Mohammad Hayef came to the meeting, but MPs Ahmad Al-Fadhl, Khaled Al-Shatti, Askar Al-Enezi and Talal Al-Jallal did not come. For the meeting to be legal, at least four of the seven members must be present. The committee was supposed to look into the legal issues regarding jailing Tabtabaei and Harbash although they still enjoy their parliamentary immunity, after the Assembly referred the issue to the panel following a debate last week.

The jailed MPs say putting them behind bars because of a conviction that is not final is against the constitution. Yesterday, the two MPs sent a new letter to the Assembly speaker calling on the Assembly to allow them to attend the weekly session today and tomorrow, saying they are jailed in violation of the constitution and that their forcible absence undermines the right of voters who elected them. The two lawmakers also said that their absence from attending the session casts suspicion over the laws passed by the Assembly, claiming that the government deliberately adopted measures to arrest and imprison them.

Opposition MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari accused the four pro-government lawmakers of deliberately abstaining from the meeting with the intention to prevent the meeting from being held and from discussing the case of the two MPs. He said the four members should have attended the meeting and expressed their viewpoints in the panel deliberations and not abstain and obstruct the committee meeting. He said that this incident will not be allowed to pass without action. Opposition MP Adel Al-Damkhi said that the arrest and imprisonment of two MPs undermines the authority of the Assembly, because they were jailed before the final verdict.

In a related development, Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the Assembly will continue debating the Amiri address today and will try tomorrow to debate and approve a number of draft laws on which there is consensus between MPs and the government.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 25/12/2017