Emir Seeks to Calm Kuwaiti Political Crisis

Article Summary
Kuwait’s emir predicts the constitutional crisis over election law changes will end soon, Al-Khaleej reports, but opposition groups are promising to hold the emirate's largest-ever demonstration, and perhaps even to employ civil disobedience.

After a long, tumultuous day, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad continued his efforts to calm the situation. He reaffirmed his commitment to any ruling issued by the Constitutional Court regarding the decree involving the reduction of the number of votes [to one vote per candidate instead of four, as in the past] “should there be a need to resort to the court.” He said that the crisis will end soon.

The emir said that he maintains an equal distance towards everyone, whether opponents or supporters. [His position] comes at a time when the opposition promised to take "earth-shattering measures” and to hold a march “not previously witnessed in Kuwait.”

The opposition has reiterated its determination to continue the confrontation until the decree is annulled and elections are held based on the old law. The opposition has  threatened to escalate in the direction of "civil disobedience."

The president and members of the Supreme Advisory Committee tasked with completing the implementation of the provisions of Islamic Shariah law met with the emir yesterday [Nov. 5]. They praised the emir’s wise approach to the current situation in the country.

They quoted him as saying that "I am not biased towards anyone, and I maintain an equal distance toward those who oppose or support me.” They said that that the emir is willing to refer the dispute to an entity capable of taking a conclusive decision on it, which is the Constitutional Court.

Former MP Ali al-Rashed said that “the emir assured us that he will continue with this necessary decree and there will be no backing down. He also assured us that the law will continue to be enforced on anyone who violates this law. There is no room for any other interpretation, and this has relieved us. But once the Constitutional Court issues its ruling, everyone will abide by it, which is normal. We are committed to any ruling [issued by the court]. Those who want to appeal against this necessary decree have a chance to do so if there is an interest in it."

The cabinet, chaired by Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak, approved two draft decrees through two laws regarding the establishment of the anti-corruption general authority, provisions concerning the declaration of assets, and the amendment of legislation and rules governing sports in Kuwait.

The cabinet commended the security services’ handling of the events, saying it was "marked by wisdom, patience, tolerance and a serious commitment to the law.” The cabinet expressed confidence that the language of reason and wisdom will prevail, and that the interests of the country will be put above all other interests.

Law experts said that there is a possibility that the one-vote decree will be scrapped in the Constitutional Court, since it is unconstitutional and is not characterized as necessary.

Lawyer Muhammad Munawwar said that "the cabinet has to independently refer the necessary decree to the Constitutional Court to assess its constitutionality." He added that "Article 71 of the constitution allows the emir to issue decrees, and stipulates — in unique terms included at the end of the article — that the decree not be “in violation of the constitution."

Munawwar added that "the Constitutional Court, under the law of its establishment, is responsible for discussing disputes over the constitutionality of laws. There is no doubt that what is happening in the country today is an unprecedented dispute over the constitutionality of the decree."

Former MP Waleed al-Tabtabai announced the intention of the opposition youth, parliamentary and political forces to organize a new rally titled “Gathering of the Will of a Nation,” in which up to 300,000 citizens are expected to take part.

Former MP Ahmad Muti said that "the higher constitutional court has a responsibility to do justice to the nation, and issue a ruling deeming the decree unnecessary and unconstitutional. Let’s wait for the court’s decision, away from demonstrations and marches."

Found in: kuwait opposition, kuwait

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