HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The country’s top leadership yesterday intervened to defuse political tensions between the government and opposition MPs and activists, ordering the government to withdraw complaints filed against activists, leading to their release from detention. The public prosecution had ordered the detention of 15 former opposition MPs and activists after they refused to pay KD 100 bail after interrogating them for taking part in a public gathering and violating health restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Those detained included veteran former National Assembly speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun, 86, and about a dozen former opposition lawmakers who took part in a gathering to support leading opposition MP Bader Al-Dahoum around two weeks ago. After interrogating them over complaints filed by the interior ministry, the public prosecution ordered the release of the activists, provided each of them pays KD 100 in bail pending further investigation.

The activists refused to pay the bail money, and as a result, the prosecution ordered them detained at the central investigation department. As the situation was heading for a major showdown between the government and the opposition, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said the “political leadership” ordered that the complaints be withdrawn.

Sheikh Sabah said the leadership stressed the need for cooperation between the government and the National Assembly, whose relations have been rocked by confrontations since the Assembly was elected in December. Relations worsened after the constitutional court on Sunday stripped Dahoum, a leading government critic, of his Assembly membership for being convicted in a court ruling seven years ago for insulting the Amir.

Dahoum and the opposition criticized the court verdict as political and charged it breached the country’s laws and the constitution. Opposition MPs have vowed to amend laws they described as undemocratic to ensure that such verdicts are not issued in the future. They also vowed to submit three grillings against the prime minister and also stressed to declare non-cooperation with him.

It was not immediately known if the government’s action of withdrawing the complaints will improve relations with the legislature and reduce tensions. Dahoum said after the withdrawal that “wise people have intervened and reduced the level of tensions”, but insisted this will not let them forget the constitutional court ruling, saying he will continue to fight the verdict with “constitutional means”.

Earlier in the day, Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he was also referred to the public prosecution for interrogation for violating health measures when he celebrated his election win with a large number of supporters. Ghanem admitted that he violated the health measures and said he will ask the Assembly to lift his parliamentary immunity to be interrogated, a step which may not be needed after the government withdrew all complaints. The National Assembly is expected to hold next week its first regular session since Jan 5, when the government resigned.