Opposition steps up campaign amid political stalemate

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti opposition stepped up its anti-government campaign on Tuesday as about 20 MPs continued an open-ended sit-in at the National Assembly building, while prominent former politicians continued holding daily rallies. The aim of the campaign, which began a week ago, is to force the resumption of Assembly sessions, suspended since the Cabinet resigned on April 5, and to ward off attempts to undermine the 1962 constitution.

Kuwait has effectively been without a proper Cabinet for almost the past 80 days after HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah submitted his resignation to HH the Amir after 26 lawmakers, two more than the required quorum, said they will support a non-cooperation motion filed following a grilling.

HH the Amir accepted the resignation more than a month ago and asked the premier and the Cabinet to continue to manage urgent matters in a caretaker capacity. Since the resignation, the Assembly has not convened regular sessions, which opposition MPs claim amounts to preventing the legislature from meeting to decide on issues relevant to the people.

The opposition claimed that this was an attempt to undermine the rule of the constitution which governs relations between the lawmakers and the government. Around 20 MPs decided to stage an indefinite sit-in at the Assembly building, including sleeping in their offices to protest the paralysis of the constitution and the country’s democracy.

Around 19 former prominent opposition MPs issued a statement backing the MPs’ action and decided to hold gatherings at diwaniyas in support of the striking lawmakers. The first rally was hosted by former speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun. The next two rallies were hosted by former MPs Abdullah Al-Nafisi and Waleed Al-Jari. Jari said that all that the people want is to safeguard the 1962 constitution and democracy.

Monday’s rally saw the attendance of former prominent opposition leader, ex-MP Musallam Al-Barrak, and a number of former MPs who had returned from more than three years in exile in Turkey a few months ago. One of these former lawmakers, Jamaan Al-Harbash, said their attendance is a sign of support and to unify the ranks of the opposition to protect the constitution.

But Deputy Speaker Ahmad Al-Shuhoumi launched a scathing attack on the opposition, accusing them of “terrorizing” their opponents. Former pro-government MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl, writing on Twitter, held the prime minister responsible for the turn of events, claiming the government failed to stop violations during the Dec 5, 2020 parliamentary elections, where the opposition scored an impressive victory.

Meanwhile, pro-government MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji said he has obtained information that the bank accounts of four MPs have been inflated with illegal deposits. He said he has sent questions to the finance minister, requesting details on the issue and on what legal procedures will be taken.

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