KUWAIT: Opposition MPs occupy ministers’ seats at the National Assembly yesterday, which led the government to boycott the session. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The government yesterday boycotted a regular National Assembly session for the third straight time because opposition MPs sat in seats reserved for Cabinet ministers prompting the speaker to cancel the session. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he was informed by the government that it is boycotting the session because MPs sat in seats reserved for Cabinet ministers, citing article 116 of the constitution which he said stipulates the attendance of ministers for the session to be legal. Opposition MPs however challenged Ghanem, insisting that article 116 stipulates that the Assembly session is held when the required quorum is available, without the need for ministers.

Ghanem said last week that at least 30 Assembly sessions had been called off since 1962 because of the government’s absence. Opposition MPs are adamant that they will not allow sessions to proceed unless the prime minister agrees to face four grillings filed against him. The government says the Assembly on March 30 took a decision to delay grillings against the prime minister until the end of 2022. The opposition says the decision is against the constitution and did not even get the required majority to pass.

Angry opposition MPs immediately held a press conference in which they called for the resignation of Ghanem and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. They urged HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to dissolve the Assembly and call for fresh polls. “We have reached a deadlock in dealing with the prime minister and the speaker…the two pose a grave danger to democracy and the constitution,” said MP Bader Al-Mulla, who called for their resignation.

MP Mohammad Al-Mutair said the country is facing a catastrophic political situation. “What is happening is undermining parliament, the constitution, and the Kuwaiti people and an attempt to steal their wealth,” Mutair said. He charged Ghanem of being a tool of the “deep state”. Mutair said the Assembly will not continue in the presence of Ghanem and Sheikh Sabah and called for holding fresh polls.

MP Obaid Al-Wasmi said there is no scope for any cooperation with the government, adding that the events are not serving the interests of the state. He appealed to HH the Amir to take action to end the political crisis. MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said what is happening today is “preplanned”, with attempts to strip the Assembly of its powers and turn it into a toothless house. He said what the opposition lawmakers are doing is a form of peaceful opposition to force the prime minister to accept to be grilled. “We want to implement the constitution,” he said.

MP Ahmad Al-Azemi said the Assembly has been in limbo since March 30 because of the prime minister and the speaker. MP Muhalhal Al-Mudhaf said the dispute today is between those working for a democratic civil state and those who don’t want it. He called for implementing a full parliamentary system in which the winning party forms the government.