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Opposition short of one vote to prevent govt from taking oath

The National Assembly.

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Thirty-two lawmakers yesterday said they will boycott the National Assembly session tomorrow to prevent the new Cabinet from taking the oath of office, just one vote short of preventing the Assembly from meeting. For the session to be legal, an absolute majority of members – 33 – must attend the session, and so far opposition MPs said they have guaranteed that 32 lawmakers will not attend the session. If one more member joins the opposition boycott, the Assembly will not be able to meet.

Not holding the session will prevent the 16-member Cabinet, including HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, from taking the oath to become members of the Assembly. If ministers do not become members of the Assembly, they will not be able to attend sessions, which is a prerequisite for Assembly sessions to be legal. A similar incident happened in 1964, when a majority of MPs refused to attend the Assembly session and prevented Cabinet members from taking the oath. That forced the Cabinet to resign.

Opposition MPs met again yesterday and issued a brief statement in which they assured they will boycott the session because Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem had insisted that the membership of leading opposition MP Bader Al-Dahoum is “null and void”. Following the meeting, Dahoum said 32 MPs have pledged they will boycott the session tomorrow in a bid to prevent the government from taking the oath. He called on people to press other MPs to join the boycott.

Dahoum warned that lawmakers who will attend the session will allow the Cabinet to take the oath and will give confidence to the prime minister and speaker, adding that people are demanding the departure of both of them.

Pressure is mounting on social media on five tribal MPs – four of them from the Awazem tribe, of which Dahoum is a member. One of them, MP Ahmad Al-Shuhoumi, the deputy speaker, said he will attend the session even if he is the only member present. Other lawmakers have made no comment so far. MP Saifi Al-Saifi said the government is illegitimate from constitutional, popular and legal viewpoints and the premier must go.

Meanwhile, Ghanem yesterday sent out invitations to lawmakers to attend the session tomorrow, the first since June 5. The session, if it convenes, is scheduled to discuss a number of important laws, including the general amnesty law, mainly for opposition activists and former MPs. The Assembly is also due to discuss two grillings against the prime minister.


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