Opposition MPs propose to abolish constitutional court

Early retirement law delayed for two more weeks

KUWAIT: Five opposition lawmakers yesterday submitted a draft law calling to abolish the constitutional court and create a similar new court to “stop the existing court from interfering in the affairs of the National Assembly”, MP Thamer Al-Suwait said. The move, which is unlikely to be accepted by the Assembly, comes just two days before the Assembly is expected to debate a highly controversial ruling by the constitutional court that declared a key article of the Assembly’s internal charter as unconstitutional.

That ruling issued on Dec 19 infuriated senior opposition MPs, who charged the country’s top judicial tribunal of interfering in the internal affairs of the Assembly. Suwait said the proposal calls to establish a supreme constitutional court to compromise of five judges, a member of the government and a lawmaker, saying this setup will ensure balanced verdicts by the court without infringing on the rights of the Assembly. Other signatories to the proposal are MPs Abdulwahab Al-Babtain, Khaled Al-Otaibi, Omar Al-Tabtabaei and Osama Al-Shaheen.

The ruling by the constitutional court scrapping article 16 of the Assembly’s internal charter created a legal dilemma for the Assembly, which used that article to vote to retain the membership of two opposition members Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and Jamaan Al-Harbash. The two MPs were handed a final jail term by the court of cassation for storming the Assembly building in late 2011. It was assumed that the final verdict automatically revoked their membership of the Assembly.

However, MPs in October invoked article 16 of the Assembly’s charter to vote to keep their membership, but the article was soon scrapped by the court. The Assembly is scheduled to debate the consequences of the court ruling tomorrow amid clear division in the house. Opposition MPs are adamant that the memberships of Tabtabaei and Harbash are still valid and legal, while a group of other lawmakers insist that their membership has been revoked by the court and by-elections should be announced to fill the two seats.

Meanwhile, the Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee did not complete its report on the early retirement law because of some differences. According to committee sources, the government still insists it will deduct two percent for life from those who opt for early retirement, while MPs insist that the deduction must be only for a few years.

By B Izzak

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