KUWAIT: Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem calls off the National Assembly session after the government boycotted it yesterday. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s political crisis deepened yesterday after the government boycotted a special National Assembly session, prompting opposition MPs to urge HH the Amir to intervene as the speaker said he won’t bow to “terrorism”. The session was called by 37 MPs to discuss key reforms to the country’s nationality law to allow courts to look into revoking and granting Kuwaiti citizenship. Currently, this is considered a sovereign issue and courts are prohibited to take such cases.

As no Cabinet minister was present in the chamber, Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem called off the session on the basis that the constitution requires that at least one minister must be present to convene an Assembly session. A number of opposition MPs strongly protested against the cancellation and called on the speaker to hold the session despite the absence of the government because there was sufficient quorum in the chamber.

The government said in a statement that it boycotted the session because there was no prior coordination, especially since the session was to debate key amendments to the nationality law that requires the opinions of several government bodies and the judiciary council.

Ghanem said in a statement that 30 Assembly sessions had been called off because of the government’s absence since democracy began in Kuwait in 1962. He said the cancellation was based on article 116 of the constitution, which requires that all or part of the Cabinet must be present in the Assembly session for it to be legal.

The speaker harshly blasted some opposition lawmakers and described their actions as “terrorism”, adding that “I will not bow to terrorism”. He insisted that he only applied the articles of the constitution. Thirty-one opposition MPs issued a statement in which they accused the speaker and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah of uniting to “prevent the nation from practicing its role in supervision and legislation”.

“This represents a direct aggression on the rights of the people and their powers,” they said, accusing the speaker of effectively “erasing all the powers of the Assembly”. The statement urged HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to intervene and take whatever step is suitable to resolve the issue.

Although the statement did not clearly say what actions they want, but it is understood that they are calling on HH the Amir to dissolve the Assembly and call for snap polls or change the government and the prime minister. Under the constitution, only HH the Amir has the power to dissolve the Assembly, order fresh elections and name a new prime minister. A number of opposition MPs reiterated earlier calls for the speaker and the prime minister to quit.