By B Izzak
KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem yesterday said HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will open the new Assembly term today, hoping it will achieve good results. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will also attend. In a brief statement, Ghanem expressed hope that the term will be “fruitful”, unlike the past term which was marred by bitter disputes between the government and opposition lawmakers.
Opposition lawmakers boycotted or obstructed a majority of the sessions in protest against a decision to delay grillings of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah until the end of next year. They insisted the decision, taken by pro-government MPs and Cabinet members, breaches the constitution. In today’s session, HH the Amir will deliver the inaugural speech. The speaker and prime minister will also address the session.
Lawmakers will then elect the new Assembly secretary and observer, in addition to over a dozen committees that will study and prepare draft laws before sending them to the house for debate and approval. The new term starts just days after a national dialogue called by HH the Amir between the government and opposition lawmakers.
The dialogue has resulted in some 40 MPs sending an appeal to HH the Amir calling on him to pardon opposition figures and activists who have been convicted for crimes of opinion. The Amir has set up a committee comprising of the speaker, prime minister and head of the judiciary to set out conditions for the planned amnesty. Ghanem said on Sunday the committee plans to send its first report to HH the Amir within two weeks.
The Amiri pardon is highly expected to include a number of former opposition MPs and activists who have been living in exile in Turkey for over three years to avoid jail terms passed against them for taking part in storming the Assembly building in 2011. But the appeal has exposed differences within the opposition bloc in the Assembly, comprising 31 MPs, when nine of them refused to sign the appeal to HH the Amir, although they supported the pardon.
Only 19 MPs attended a meeting late Sunday out of the group of 31 to coordinate over the election of Assembly panels, but several members insisted the group is not dead and internal differences will be overcome. Host of the meeting, MP Farz Al-Mutairi, said MPs discussed arrangements for the Assembly elections only, adding that “the group remains cohesive and strong”. MP Muhannad Al-Sayer said after the meeting that “there is no division among the group of 31 and the issue is over differences in viewpoints”.
Meanwhile, MP Ahmad Al-Azemi submitted a proposal calling on health authorities to stop requiring PCR tests for vaccinated citizens while leaving the country or returning. He said this will reduce unnecessary costs to the government and citizens.