By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The government boycotted the National Assembly session on Wednesday, a day after ministers walked out of the Assembly chamber, saying it was not allowed to express its opinions regarding bills that have financial costs. Assembly Speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun said he was informed by the government that it will not attend Wednesday's session and adjourned the Assembly until Jan 24. Instead, the Cabinet held an extraordinary meeting to discuss other alternatives, but did not reveal what they are.
Only two ministers attended Tuesday's regular Assembly session but left the chamber when MPs insisted to debate a number of legislations that have substantial financial costs, including a draft law calling for the purchase of billions of dinars of bank loans owed by half a million citizens. The ministers called on the Assembly to send the draft laws back to parliamentary committees so it can provide its constitutional and financial opinions, but the Assembly rejected this and was about to start debating them when the ministers left. Under Kuwaiti law, the presence of at least one minister is essential to convene Assembly sessions.
Following the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Barrak Al-Sheetan said in a statement the government's walkout and boycott of the Assembly sessions came "because it was not allowed to complete its constitutional and financial opinions" in those bills. He added the government asked reports of the draft laws be sent back to the committees "in order to reach solutions to achieve goals which the government included in its program".
"The government was not allowed to do that, which forced it to leave the session (on Tuesday) and boycott the session today (Wednesday). It held an extraordinary meeting to discuss available options," Sheetan said. Around 44 MPs issued a statement on Tuesday in which they strongly criticized the government, saying by doing so, it has become like old cabinets that contributed to political crises.
MP Khaled Al-Otaibi said on Wednesday that if the Cabinet stays on, lawmakers will continue with their demands, and if the Cabinet resigns, "it will be a good opportunity to form a rescue government" with strong ministers. He added the government should not have boycotted the Assembly and should have accepted negotiations as a means of resolving problems. Otaibi said if the government is keen to cooperate with the Assembly, "it should have attended the sessions and explained its opinions".
MP Adel Al-Damkhi also said that any dispute between the government and the Assembly should be resolved within the constitutional framework, adding the government should abandon the policies of old cabinets.