KUWAIT: Lawmakers attend a parliament session at the National Assembly yesterday. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Lawmakers yesterday clashed over the meaning and scope of a draft law calling to pardon former MPs and activists jailed for taking part in protests and for comments on social media deemed offensive. Islamist MP Abdullah Fahhad said that the bill is not against the powers of His Highness the Amir in granting special pardon to certain people but the draft law is being reviewed in line with the constitution. Fahhad was referring to a bill being studied by the legal and legislative committee and calling to pardon former MPs and activists from offences related to freedom of speech and taking part in protests.

But MP Khaled Al-Shatti, head of the legislative committee, said any amnesty legislation must include all cases in order to overcome domestic problems and help promote unity, and strongly rejected what he called “selective amnesty.” Shatti, a Shiite lawmaker, had submitted a different amnesty draft law calling to pardon about two dozen Kuwaiti Shiites convicted of collaborating with Iran intelligence and possessing of large quantities of arms.

The bill also calls for pardoning former Shiite MP Abdulhameed Dashti, who is living abroad to escape more than 70 years of jail term for criticizing neighboring Arab countries. MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl also objected to the opposition draft law, insisting that pardon must be sought from His Highness the Amir who has the power to pardon people.

Opening the session yesterday to continue debating the Amiri Address, speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem called on MPs to pay a great attention to national unity and to avoid speaking about events taking place outside, in a clear reference to the US-Iran hostilities.

The session was ongoing when the Twitter account of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) was hacked and published a brief report in both Arabic and English citing the defense minister announcing that the US troops were vacating the Arifjan Base within three days, which fell as a bombshell in the country. KUNA later deleted the report and said its Twitter account was hacked and it never published the report on its general wire. The government spokesman swiftly denied the report.

In the meantime, MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf strongly criticized health services in the country, especially at the intensive care units, saying that the sister of the oil minister died in hospital after contracting a killer virus. The oil minister Khaled Al-Fadhel however explained that his sister contracted the virus at a private hospital.

MP Abdullah Al-Roumi stressed that the constitution and the parliamentary system are not enemies of the country’s leadership or the ruling family. MP Adnan Abdulsamad, head of the assembly budgets committee, warned that if spending in the budget continues at the current high level, the state reserve is under the threat of vanishing. The assembly holds a special session today to discuss a number of issues, including the regional security developments.