Amir to open new Assembly term; 2 grillings on agenda

Legal committee declares premier’s grilling unconstitutional

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah opens the new term of the National Assembly today amid what appears to be strained Assembly-government relations after MPs filed to grill three ministers. The Amir, in his first public appearance after undergoing successful medical tests in the United States, is expected to address domestic, regional and international issues and urge cooperation between the government and lawmakers in the last term before general polls.

The opening ceremony will also hear speeches by the speaker and the prime minister, then move to debate at least two of three grillings submitted against the ministers of finance and public works. A third grilling against the interior minister has been listed on the Nov 12 session agenda but could be brought forward if the minister and the Assembly agree. The ministers are accused of committing administrative and financial violations.

If enough time remains, the Assembly will then elect its various committees amid expectations that the government and its supporters, who enjoy a comfortable majority, will consolidate their grip on a number of key panels, especially the financial, legal and interior committees. Other committees to be elected include the health and labor, public utilities, housing and petitions panels.

The new term is expected to debate a crucial legislation to find a solution for the decades-old problem of some 120,000 stateless people or bedoons, who or their forefathers have been living in the country for over 70 years without citizenship. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he has completed a comprehensive law that would provide lasting solutions, insisting that there will be no bedoon problem after one year if the law is implemented correctly. He said that he decided to delay filing the bill for a week to allow other MPs to study it and submit proposals.

And since this term is the last before parliamentary elections, populist demands by MPs seeking re-election are expected to rise sharply. An example of such demands was the approval on Sunday by the legal and legislative committee of five proposals to resolve the consumer loan problem at the expense of public coffers.

In another development, the legal and legislative committee yesterday voted to declare that a grilling filed by opposition MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari against the prime minister is not in line with the constitution. It was the committee’s second such decision during the previous term. Kandari said the decision of the committee had been highly anticipated, alleging the grilling was referred to the committee to make such a decision to prevent the grilling of the premier.

By B Izzak

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