Ghanem invites govt to ‘special session’ over sports law

KUWAIT: An annual summit of Gulf Arab heads of state will convene in Kuwait on Dec 5 and 6, Gulf officials said yesterday, despite an ongoing dispute between some members of the group. A rift between the Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on one side, and Qatar on the other has put this year’s annual meeting in doubt. A senior Kuwaiti official confirmed yesterday that the meeting would take place on Dec 5 and 6, but said the level of representation was not clear yet. Two Gulf diplomats also said Kuwait, which had led unsuccessful mediation efforts between the two sides, would try again to use the meeting to resolve the rift.

The crisis, which began in June, revolves around allegations by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt that Qatar supports terrorism, a charge Doha denies. Qatar says the four countries are trying to force Doha to fall in line with their own foreign policy views. The US-allied council was founded in 1980 as a bulwark against bigger neighbors Iran and Iraq. Bahrain said last month it will not attend the summit if Qatar does not change its policies and Qatar should have its membership in the six-nation group suspended.

Separately, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al- Ghanem has invited lawmakers and the government to a special parliamentary session on Sunday in which a new FIFA-approved sports law will be drafted. In a press conference yesterday, Ghanem cited time constraints as the reason for the “immediate invitation”, revealing that the new law should take effect no later than Sunday.

“I have made it clear to the government that attendance in this session is compulsory given the urgent nature of the issue,” the chief lawmaker said. While Ghanem refused to divulge further details, he commended the government’s “outstanding efforts” to ensure that the ban on Kuwaiti sports federations is ultimately lifted.

In separate remarks, Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Faleh Al-Azab confirmed the government’s attendance in Sunday’s special session. “The government will do everything possible to ensure that the new sports law is enacted,” the minister told the press.

Underlining the enormity of the issue, Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan said the new sports law represents a significant step towards rendering the FIFA suspension null and void. Once the new sports law is drafted, Roudhan, who is also Minister of State for Youth Affairs, maintained that “substantial work remains to be done to make sure that the sports ban on Kuwait is lifted,” saying that things are headed in the right direction after some “positive feedback” from FIFA. — Agencies