KUWAIT: MPs attend a special parliamentary session at the National Assembly yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Lawmakers who are members of an alliance of opposition MPs yesterday took control of most of National Assembly panels, including the key committees of legal and legislative and the interior and defense. But pro-government MPs wrested control of the important financial and economic affairs committee and health and labor panel.

Most of the committees were however elected unanimously, as the government appears to have decided not to intervene in the election of the panels, which study and approve bills and discuss key issues. The alliance of opposition MPs last week lost the speaker’s election battle after Marzouq Al-Ghanem was elected for a third term with strong backing from the government and after a dozen members of the alliance changed their minds and voted for Ghanem.

Alliance members were in a majority in the permanent committees for legal and legislative, interior and defense, housing, public funds defense, foreign affairs, budgets and public utilities. They also took control of temporary panels for human rights, stateless people (bedoons), women and family, agriculture and food security and environment affairs. The Assembly however refused to form a temporary committee for oil affairs, after some MPs said the financial affairs committee is already entrusted with the issue.

At the start of the session, Ghanem and the government paid tributes to late Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the former defense minister and eldest son of former Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Monday, and late Abdulaziz Al-Shaye, a senior Kuwaiti businessman who was also a former electricity and water minister.

Ghanem rejected requests by opposition MPs to debate issues related to last week’s session and their motions to launch an investigation into allowing crowds loyal to the speaker to attend the inaugural session in violation of rules. The speaker insisted that the internal charter and the constitution do not allow debating any issue outside the agenda, because it was a special session.

Opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair said the internal charter does not distinguish between special and ordinary sessions and what the speaker did is wrong. MP Thamer Al-Suwait charged that Assembly officials replaced the cameras and destroyed evidence about violations committed last week during the opening session. MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said in case of a dispute over interpreting legal issues, the Assembly should be allowed to vote on such issues.

Meanwhile, MP Mohammad Al-Huwailah yesterday submitted an amendment to the nationality law stipulating that Kuwaiti citizenship cannot be revoked by authorities without a court ruling.