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Amir delays National Assembly opening session until May 14

KUWAIT: Just a few days after snap parliamentary polls, Kuwait plunged into a political crisis on Monday over the new National Assembly’s opening session, which was scheduled to be held on April 17. An Amiri decree was issued late Monday postponing the opening session until May 14, following media reports that caretaker Prime Minister HH Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah declined to form the new Cabinet.

The new Amiri decree eclipses an earlier decree issued on Sunday setting April 17 as the day for the opening session. The new decree was received with a storm of reactions by a large number of lawmakers, who insisted that it breaches the constitution which clearly states that the opening session of the new Assembly must be held within two weeks of announcing election results. The results of the April 4 elections were declared on April 5.

The delay, based on article 106 of the constitution which gives the right to HH the Amir to suspend Assembly sessions for one month, was apparently made to give more time to the new prime minister to form his Cabinet. MP Saleh Ashour, the oldest MP in the new house who is not contesting the speaker’s post and who will chair the opening session, said he will send out invitations to MPs to attend the opening session on April 17 as specified by the earlier Amiri decree.

A similar event happened in the 2016 National Assembly when the government wanted to delay the opening but relented and attended the session within the prescribed two weeks. Former speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said that article 106 of the constitution which allows the ruler to suspend the Assembly sessions for one month cannot be applied before the Assembly opens its term. It is applicable only when the Assembly is in the middle of a term.

Ghanem added that what applies in this case is article 87 of the constitution, which clearly states that the new Assembly must hold its opening session within two weeks of the election results. A large number of MPs said on their X accounts that they will attend the opening session on April 17.

Constitutional expert Ibrahim Al-Humoud confirmed that the one-month postponement is not applicable to the new Assembly before inauguration. MP Abdulaziz Al-Saqaabi said he will attend the session on April 17 and said the government’s weak practices must stop. MP Hamdan Al-Azmi accused the government of creating crises by not complying with the constitution.

MP Obaid Al-Wasmi said that practices that breach the constitution are not acceptable under any justification. Local media also reported on Monday that Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, a top official at the Amiri Diwan and a former minister, is expected to be named as the next prime minister.

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