Constitutional Court declares votes ‘legal’, replaces one MP

Premier demands explanation to his grilling

KUWAIT: The Constitutional Court yesterday rejected all petitions challenging last year’s parliamentary polls and the current National Assembly, saying the process was conducted within the framework of the constitution. The ruling means the National Assembly will stay. The court accepted only one petition out of 52 it received by scrapping the membership of MP Marzouk Al-Khlaifa and declaring that candidate Farraj Al-Arbeed has won the seat.

The court found that there was a mathematical error in counting the votes in the Fourth Constituency. Arbeed was placed in the 11th place behind Khalifa by the election authorities. But when the votes were recounted by the court, it was found he came in the 9th place, followed by MP Saad Al-Shuwaier in the 10th and Khalifa in the 11th. Only 10 MPs are elected from each constituency.

Former candidates had challenged that the whole election process was flawed because the Amiri decree dissolving the previous Assembly in October was not in line with the constitution. They also challenged that an Amiri decree inviting voters for the November election was also unconstitutional. But the court, presided by head of the Higher Judiciary Council Yoused Al-Matawa, said that all the decrees were constitutional and the election process was legal, thus throwing out petitions to dissolve the Assembly and call for fresh election.

Assembly Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem welcomed the verdict and said it will lay the ground for political stability in the country. He said that one of the two grillings against the prime minister in which Khalifa was one of the three grillers will remain intact since two other grillers remain. Khalifa’s name will be deleted, he said. Ghanem also said that Arbeed will take the oath to become a member in the Assembly during next Tuesday’s regular session. Following the announcement of the verdict, Arbeed visited the National Assembly building and met with the speaker. He said he will carry out his election pledges.

In another development, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah yesterday sent a letter to MPs Shuaib Al-Muwaizri and Riyadh Al-Adasani asking for more explanation of the grilling they have filed against him. The premier asked two lawmakers to specifically pinpoint the alleged violations he has committed in order to prepare the answers for their allegations during the debate scheduled to be held on May 10.

The premier insisted that the grilling does not include any specific accusation or issue and accordingly violates the internal charter of the Assembly and is not good for debate. Sheikh Jaber however did not make any reference to the other grilling amid reports that a ministerial committee is studying it to determine if the grilling is constitutional or not. Adasani’s response came very quick as the lawmaker said that after all the explanation we have provided, the prime minister comes now to ask for more.

This article was published on 04/05/2017