KUWAIT: The constitutional court yesterday ruled that an Amiri decree establishing the Anti-Corruption Authority is not in line with the constitution, which means the existence of the authority is illegal. The court said that the decree was issued in 2012 as an emergency decree in the absence of the National Assembly, adding that there was no urgency in issuing the decree and the government should have waited for the Assembly to meet.

The establishment of the authority, hailed as a landmark achievement for Kuwait, started operations about a year ago after completing the appointment of its staff. It launched its operations by demanding that all ministers, MPs and top bureaucrats submit their wealth disclosures in accordance with the law. Those who submitted their wealth disclosures include the prime minister and Assembly speaker and many ministers and MPs. The authority had also begun investigations into a number of alleged corruption cases.

The government and Assembly were supposed to issue a new law for the authority last week but decided to delay any action until after the ruling. A number of MPs demanded after the ruling that the government must issue a new law immediately in order to fill the legislative vacuum, which effectively means that the authority has no legal status. The government is scheduled to submit a new draft law on corruption today which will be reviewed and approved by the legal and legislative committee and then sent for debate to the Assembly tomorrow. The approval of the law means that the anti-corruption authority can continue operations.

In another major development, a joint meeting by four Assembly committees yesterday approved a request by the government for special additional funds for the military, but cut the allocations to just KD 3.2 billion, MP Adnan Abdulsamad said. The government had requested in a special draft law KD 6.2 billion to be spent over the next 10 years to strengthen defense purchases in the light of regional turmoil and armed conflicts.

The committees which met included those of budgets, financial and economic affairs, interior and defense and foreign relations. Abdulsamad said that the meeting, which was attended by the defense minister, agreed to the KD 3 billion in a special budget allocation and approved KD 200 million more to be added to the current fiscal year’s accounts. The meeting also decided to debate the bill in the Assembly tomorrow, to which Abdulsamad objected and walked out of the meeting.

Kuwait has been discussing several arms purchases, including warplanes, helicopters and others, to strengthen the armed forces. It was not immediately known whether there was a verbal agreement on requiring the government to request any additional funds it may need in the future on top of the approved allocations.

The Assembly is also expected to debate the grilling against Health Minister Ali Al-Obaidi over alleged violations. MP Hamdan Al-Azemi one of the two lawmakers who filed the grilling, said he will organize a public rally today to explain the reasons for the grilling.

By B Izzak