Kuwaiti MP Nabeel al-Fadhel (C) speaks to Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah (L) and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah at the national assembly in Kuwait City on December 22, 2015. Al-Fadhel died during the parliament session according to media reports. AFP PHOTO / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT
MP Nabil Al-Fadhl (center) speaks to Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah (left) and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah at the National Assembly yesterday, shortly before he died during the parliament session.

KUWAIT: MP Nabil Al-Fadhl yesterday died on his parliamentary seat apparently of a heart attack, as the government, National Assembly and MPs mourned him as an active parliamentarian. He was 66. The incident took place about half an hour after the start of the Assembly session in which the grilling of Health Minister Ali Al-Obaidi was scheduled to take place. Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said Fadhl died while serving his country and performing his duty, and suspended parliamentary sessions yesterday and today, saying the next session will be held on Jan 12.

Minutes before he died, Fadhl spoke for just over a minute, drawing the attention of his colleagues to focus entirely on Assembly business and not distract ministers and keep them busy signing transactions and forms for the lawmakers. He looked somewhat tired as he sat down. Minutes later, as MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi was speaking, Fadhl fell on the floor and lawmakers near him rushed to his help. They hoisted him up and seated him but he appeared to have breathed his last.

Ghanem quickly came down from the podium and took part in helping other MPs as medics also rushed to his help. They took Fadhl to the Assembly clinic and immediately rushed him to the nearby Amiri Hospital. The cause of his death was not immediately announced but it appears to be a massive heart attack. Fadhl complained of health problems in the past few years and last year he underwent a kidney transplant donated by his son. He was also a diabetic.

Following the announcement of his death, some MPs broke down in tears and put a Kuwaiti flag on his seat. Before joining politics in 2012, when he was elected to the Assembly for the first time, Fadhl was a writer and a journalist at Al-Watan newspaper for several years. He continued to write his column in the newspaper even after becoming a member of parliament.

He was first elected as MP in Feb 2012 and had to live in a parliament dominated by an overwhelming opposition majority. He was a strong government supporter. But that Assembly was scrapped by the constitutional court for constitutional flaws. He contested the next election in December that year and won again. That Assembly did not last long as the court scrapped the Assembly again on technical issues. In the July 2013 elections, he was initially declared a loser, but when he challenged the result and following a recount, he was adjudged to be a member of parliament.

Fadhl was a strong critic of Islamist political parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. He had repeatedly called for declaring some Islamic groups as terrorist organizations. He was also a vocal supporter of social liberalization, once calling for considering lifting the total ban on alcohol, and was a strong supporter of ending the ban on coeducation. Fadhl was also a strong foe of opposition groups which boycotted the last two elections after changes to the electoral law. Commenting of the demise of Fadhl, former MP Musallam Al-Barrak said that he forgave him and expressed grief on his death. “May the Almighty have mercy on Nabil…I forgive him despite what he said against me,” he said.

Under the Kuwaiti constitution, if a parliamentary seat falls vacant, a by-election must be held in the same district within two months to elect a new lawmaker. The Assembly issued a statement mourning Fadhl, describing him an active member despite his health conditions. The government also paid tribute to the lawmaker.