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23-01-2012 - Times of Oman

Kuwait's Majlis Al Umma 'Parliament', the focus of the world

In an era when democracy across the globe is finding fresh and renewed lease of life, Kuwait offers to this chequered legacy a script of political reformation written with extreme passion. Its tryst with democracy has been seminal and charismatic - transforming not only its own polity and society but also redefining the political ambience in the entire Arabia and GCC. Sprouting green shoots of democracy and big ideas emerging from ideological exactitudes have reinforced the country's feisty evolution to attain the perfect democratic model.

Vibrant institution Its Parliament, Majlis Al Umma, is a vibrant institution which certainly deserves all our appreciation for successfully taking a fledgling nation resolutely along the path of democracy. It has reshaped the nation in ways that have earned global admiration, played a pivotal role of being the country's biggest institution ensuring national security, and protecting the rights of the people.

The past several years have been a period of remarkable making for Kuwait. This has been the period during which we have seen a nation transforming on the wings of the biggest tenet of democracy - preservation of the supremacy of the Parliament. The Majlis has indeed played its part as the guardian of Kuwait's democracy more effectively than we could have hoped for. Its premises have, time and again, vibrated with deliberations that have gone to strengthen Kuwait's essential democratic mosaic.

In playing its role as an alert sentinel of the nation's democracy, Majlis has always emerged triumphant. On many an occasion we have seen the proactive role it took in nullifying the smallest of the threats to Kuwait's democracy; taking stands even against the mightiest of individuals. Kuwait truly owes everything to its Parliament for the growth of its democracy.

Growth of democracy in Kuwait has been the result of continued political experiments and its yearning to perfect the model conceived years ago by its founding fathers. The efforts achieved roaring success also because the common people in Kuwait have been passionately supportive. A combination of these two created the magic the country has long been striving to achieve.

Democratic process Of late, we have seen instances of spontaneous participation of people in Kuwait's democratic process. Long queues of enthusiastic people were seen outside every election centre where the authorities had set up camps to train and educate voters about their candidates and polling process. This exercise has created tremendous enthusiasm among the electorate and has earned international accolades.

The Omani media delegation, which recently visited Kuwait to make a first-hand study of the situation, has returned extremely impressed. The delegation members had a long discussion with Rodhan Abdulaziz Al Rodhan, Kuwait's former minister of state for the Council of Ministers, on the forthcoming elections in the country. The former minister, who is also a candidate in the fray, enumerated in details how his country developed democracy for tens of years with absolute honesty and transparency.

Media, he said, has been a cornerstone in the development of democracy in Kuwait. By disseminating correct and proper information to all sections of the society, the Kuwaiti media has truly grown as an indispensable pillar of democracy - the classical fourth estate of democratic polity.

In finding its roots and taking a firm stand, democracy in Kuwait, said Rodhan Abdulaziz Al Rodhan, owes much to the youths. There has been a perfect coordination between them and the political class enabling the country to attain a political unanimity and a consensus government. In addition to this, the youths have been the national conscience in Kuwait, a sentinel against corruption - a menace that had in the past mired the country.

Mission against graft Fighting corruption is a mission even for the members of Kuwait's Parliament. In this, they are joined with equal zeal by all Kuwaitis across spectrums. Kuwait, said Rodhan Abdulaziz Al Rodhan, is under oath not to let corruption return. To ensure this, the country is more alert than ever and Kuwaitis are aware that eradication of the rot demands a continuous vigilance not only by the members of Parliament, but also by the society.

Kuwait as a nation has withstood both the best and worst of history. It had been trampled in the past; million blows have been inflicted and yet it has come out the winner because of its inherent resilience and wisdom of its leaders. Its parliament suffered dissolution in the past but the strength of its Constitution and laws saw the blights passing away. Democracy triumphed over all odds.

Like in any matured democracy Kuwaiti Parliament guarantees its members the right to question even the most prominent citizen and official as and when necessary and even act against any one including officials, irrespective of their position, if enough otherwise evidences are found against them. And these are the powers that make the Parliament and democracy in Kuwait outstanding across Arabia and GCC.

The pride the Kuwaitis feel about their democracy is, therefore, absolutely justified. In essence the country's tryst with democracy has been the offshoot of some great ideas which have propelled the nation into the front row of global attention, appreciation and acknowledgment. After all, this oil-rich nation has effectively addressed the aspiration of its citizens with effectiveness which we see in any matured democracy.

Cause of concern A Kuwaiti official, interviewed by Al Shabiba in Kuwait, said that of late there have been some attempts made to affect the unity of the nation. This has become a cause of concern for the country and a priority issue to the Parliament. National security of Kuwait is sanctum sanctorum and is a collective concern of all Arab and GCC nations. This found a perfect demonstration in the manner in which all Arab and GCC countries stood by Kuwait when it was invaded by Iraq. Entire Arabia and GCC was shocked and pained because Kuwait and its people are known for being peace-loving.

As fresh polls for Majlis are due in Kuwait the promises being made by the candidates are significant. The country's rich legacy of experiments with democracy provide enough inspirations and assurance that Kuwait is now all set to take a giant frog leap into the next level of political maturity. The ensuing election will certainly herald a new stage of social and political developments. Women are expected to be further encouraged to partake more decisively in the process of decision making as well as in the sustainable developments of the country.

Kuwait's tryst with democracy and political reforms is guaranteed to be successful. Its relentless efforts to evolve the perfect model to address the aspirations of its citizens are sure to flourish. For, Kuwait has the zeal, ideas and resources to be the winner - an example for all of us in Arabia and GCC. Its victory in its experiments is a requisite because in its success we, across Arabia and GCC, shall find the inspiration and beacon light to follow.

 

Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights