KUWAIT: Opposition Members of Parliament wait for the session to start after occupying the front row of the National Assembly chamber reserved for ministers at the Abdullah Al-Salem Hall yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Opposition MPs yesterday occupied the front row of the National Assembly chamber reserved for ministers, triggering a government boycott of the session and forcing the speaker to adjourn meetings until after the fasting month of Ramadan. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem told the Assembly that he was informed by the government that the prime minister and ministers will not attend the session because MPs have occupied their seats. Ghanem then adjourned Assembly sessions until after Ramadan as opposition MPs applauded. The opposition said it resorted to this measure to force the prime minister to face a grilling in the chamber.

Opposition MPs arrived in the chamber early and sat in the ministers’ seats. They pasted small stickers in front of them reading “We have sworn 1962” in reference to taking the oath on the constitution, which was issued in 1962. The opposition has been protesting what they call an unconstitutional decision taken on March 30 to postpone grillings of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah until the end of 2022. Opposition MPs said the decision is null and void because it breaches the constitution and because the voting on the decision was illegal.

The government strongly criticized opposition MPs for “the unprecedented” action, saying what happened violates “established parliamentary norms and the provisions of the constitution”. The statement, read by Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Mubarak Al-Harees, said the government boycotted the session because some MPs sat in the ministers’ seats. The statement said such actions will obstruct carrying out important work needed by the people and the country. The government also called on MPs to cooperate with the government and respect the constitution.

Pro-government MP Saadoun Hammad also lashed out at opposition MPs for taking this unprecedented move and called for forming a medical committee to examine the mental condition of MPs. Opposition MP Hasan Jowhar blamed the government for forcing MPs to take such action. He insisted that it was the prime minister and the government which violated the constitution by delaying grillings.

Opposition MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa said MPs will continue to prevent sessions from convening until the prime minister accepts to be grilled. He called on ministers to resign en masse and appealed to HH the Amir to resolve this standoff as he is the only person who has the solution in his hands, in a clear reference to dissolving the Assembly, as HH the Amir holds the power to dissolve the house and order fresh elections.