By B Izzak
KUWAIT: At least 34 MPs, forming an absolute majority in the National Assembly, yesterday insisted that the membership of leading opposition MP Bader Al-Dahoum, which was nullified by the constitutional court, must be settled in a vote in the house. In a statement they issued after an emergency meeting, the lawmakers said the Assembly speaker and office have no right to take unilateral actions against Dahoum, and any action must be decided by the entire Assembly.
The meeting was called after Dahoum said he had learnt that Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem instructed Assembly guards to stop him from entering the Assembly building and the chamber on the day of the Assembly’s regular meeting, expected next week. MPs warned in the statement they will use constitutional tools if the speaker insists on his unilateral decisions against Dahoum, with some lawmakers floating the idea of boycotting the next session, thus preventing the new Cabinet from taking the oath because they form the majority needed for the session to convene.
“The country is passing through a dangerous political turning point that has no precedence in the framework of relations between public authorities, which has resulted in the disruption of the constitutional balance between them,” the statement said, alluding to the recent court rulings on Dahoum.
The controversy began after the constitutional court on March 14 revoked the membership of Dahoum because he was convicted in 2014 of insulting HH the Amir. The ruling disqualified Dahoum from running for public office for life. But before contesting the Dec 5 general polls and scoring a resounding victory, the court of cassation, the country’s top court, had ruled that Dahoum’s participation in the election was legal and in line with the law.
Opposition MPs insist that the two rulings are contradictory and the cassation court’s ruling should have priority over the constitutional court verdict, which they claim has several legal loopholes. But Ghanem had already instructed the Assembly secretariat to remove Dahoum’s name from the Assembly website, clearly indicating his acceptance of the constitutional court ruling without even waiting for a debate on the issue. Some legal experts said Ghanem has the right to implement the verdict without consulting the house.
Dahoum yesterday reiterated that he is still a member of parliament and no one has the right to strike his name off except the National Assembly in a floor voting. If voting takes place, Dahoum has a clear majority to confirm his membership. The lawmakers said they will hold a meeting next week to spell out their course of action for the session, which could lead to a serious confrontation with the government and the speaker.
Meanwhile, MP Ali Al-Qattan submitted a draft law calling to grant over 100,000 stateless people – locally known as bedoons – basic civil rights, including permanent residency and jobs. The bill calls to provide all bedoons with a civil ID valid for five years, which can be renewed. On the basis of this ID, bedoons should be entitled to free medical care, education – including at the university level – and priority for jobs after Kuwaiti citizens. Under the bill, bedoons will enjoy all other basic rights, many of which they are currently deprived of.