MPs call for fundamental changes to constitution

Sports row intensifies – Law seeks to scrap petrol hike

KUWAIT: Several MPs called yesterday for fundamental changes to the country’s 1962 constitution as an essential requirement to resolve the ongoing crises in the country. The call came during the debate on the Amiri address delivered at the opening session of the new National Assembly on Dec 11. Opposition MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said the real requirement for reforms is amending the constitution, which was issued 54 years ago and has never been amended.
“We have been encountering constitutional problems and dilemmas and failed to find solutions simply because we still believe that the constitution cannot be changed. This democratic system has become ineffective,” Kandari, a professor of law, told the house. He called for immediately setting up a committee to revise and suggest amendments to the constitution, adding that the main issues that need change is to increase the number of MPs, amend the article that deals with dissolving the Assembly and several other articles, to activate the constitution.

He said that there is no democratic system in the world that is so greatly under the influence of the government like the Kuwaiti system, and the only way out of this is to increase the number of lawmakers. Kandari said that dissolving the Assembly should not remain so easy to do and without conditions. This makes lawmakers live under the fear of the dissolution of the Assembly, and therefore are not able to perform. “After 54 years, we need to change the system, which is not working. The system is old and needs to be amended,” Kandari said. He also called for legalizing political parties.

MPs Mohammad Al-Dallal and Osama Al-Shaheen also called for the need to amend the constitution to develop the country’s political life. He called for meeting with HH the Amir over this issue and holding a national conference. During their speeches, MPs warned the government against imposing any forms of charges on citizens as a means to finance the budget deficit resulting from low oil prices. MP Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei reiterated that imposing charges on citizens is a red line and will not be accepted without a law in the Assembly and only after the government manages to stop squandering in all departments.

In a related development, MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said that he and four other MPs submitted a draft law calling to scrap the recent rise in petrol prices, which should return to their July rates. He also recalled that he and other MPs had submitted a law calling to abolish a planned increase in the tariffs of electricity and water.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Waleed Al-Tabtabaei said he has coordinated with MPs Subaei and Abdulwahab Al-Babtain to file the grilling against Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah “either late today or Sunday”. Kuwait had been given until yesterday to meet conditions set by the International Olympic Committee and world football controlling body FIFA to get the suspension lifted.

IOC demanded that Kuwait amend its sport legislation to be compatible with the Olympic charter and withdraw cases filed against it in Swiss courts demanding compensation for the suspension. IOC also demanded that all local sports federations that were dissolved by the government should be reinstated.

Sheikh Salman said yesterday that he has sent flexible responses to the IOC’s demands and accepted in principle to withdraw court cases against it, provided the suspension is lifted. He also said a new sports law has been sent to the Assembly, and he also accepted to allow the general assemblies of the dissolved bodies to appoint caretaker committees to run the federations. But several MPs said the responses were far short of fulfilling IOC’s demands and blamed the government and the minister of causing the suspension to continue, depriving national football team from taking part in the qualifying rounds of the 2019 Asian Cup.

By B Izzak

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