Groups call for urgent law on public amnesty

KUWAIT: Opposition MPs, groups and activists yesterday called for moves and actions to contain the consequences of a stunning ruling by Kuwait’s top court in which it jailed two serving lawmakers, six ex-MPs and eight activists after convicting them in the highly publicized storming the Assembly case. Postings on social media said that as many as 16 opposition and pro-opposition lawmakers have decided to resign from the National Assembly in protest over the rulings – many have described as harsh.

But MP Abdullah Al-Roumi, one of those said to have resigned, immediately denied the reports. Parliamentary sources also ruled out the possibility of a collective resignation since MPs have not met. MP Mohammad Al-Mutair, who was acquitted along with 16 other activists and former MPs, yesterday called on lawmakers for a meeting on Thursday to study their course of action after the ruling.

Sources said that the meeting is expected to discuss the issue of resignations or calling for an extraordinary meeting for the National Assembly, currently in summer recess, to discuss issuing a law for public amnesty to pardon all activists sentenced to jail or found guilty but the court did not punish them. Most of those who received jail terms are outside the country, especially MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabai and Jamaan Al-Harbash and former MPs Mussallam Al-Barrak and Faisal Al-Muslem and others.

Opposition leader and former three-time Assembly speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun said it was high time for the National Assembly to issue legislation for general amnesty to pardon the opposition activists. Opposition MP Abdulwahab Al-Babtain said on Twitter that the issue of storming the Assembly has not ended, adding that “it has not started even”. He stressed on the need to issue new legislation for general amnesty and said the membership of the two convicted MPs should not be revoked. He called for popular support to achieve those goals.

Babtain said that a series of meetings will be held in the next few days and urged all to live up to their responsibility because the situation is bad when the honest people are sent to jail while the corrupt remain free. The liberal Kuwait Democratic Forum called for issuing a general amnesty law and to open a new page in the Kuwaiti political life. Former opposition MP Obaid Al-Wasmi said he believes that the new sentences are specifically targeting former MPs Barrak and Muslim, and advised them not to return to the country now.

Head of the anti-corruption society Meshaal Al-Suwait called on those who were sentenced to jail to meet with the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and said he believes he will pardon them. Suwait however warned the opposition figures from the danger of “setting up an opposition abroad” calling the step totally unwise. The Popular Action Movement said in a statement that the majority of the Kuwaiti people was shocked at the rulings that sent honest people who fought against corruption to jail while corrupt elements remain free enjoying strength.

It said its legal office will study the court ruling thoroughly and take the necessary decisions outlining its options. The Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) also called for pardoning those convicted in the case. In the meantime, pro-government MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl said he was very pleased, like many Kuwaitis, at the rulings which sent opposition figures to jail.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 09/07/2018