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16-04-2012 - Kuwait Times

Panel lifts immunity of oppn MPs who stormed Kuwait Assembly

The National Assembly's legal and legislative committee yesterday agreed to lift the immunity of nine opposition MPs who led hundreds of protesters last November in storming the Assembly building, rapporteur of the panel MP Mohammad Al-Dallal said.

The decision came after the nine MPs - Faisal Al-Mislem, Musallam Al-Barrak, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Mubarak Al-Waalan, Salem Al-Namlan, Mohammad Al-Khalifa, Jamaan Al-Harbash, Khaled Al-Tahous and Falah Al-Sawwagh - demanded that their immunity be lifted so they can be tried. The final decision however will be taken by the Assembly in the coming session next week and is expected to approve the decision.

The request to lift the immunity was demanded by the public prosecution in order to complete investigation in the case which involves dozens of youth activists and some former MPs. Dallal said the committee took the decision unanimously after Tabtabaei, the head of the panel, left the meeting and despite some legal loopholes in the request by the public prosecution especially in basing the request on laws that had been scrapped.

In another development, 31 mostly Islamist MPs yesterday submitted a request to amend an article in the constitution that would require that all laws passed must be in line with sharia law.

The article in its current form states that no law is issued until passed by the Assembly and signed by HH the Amir and the MPs proposed to add that "it must be in compliance with Islamic sharia".

Islamist MPs have been trying to Islamize laws for the past several decades without success despite having a strong majority in some assemblies because of the difficulties involved in amending the constitution.

Any amendment to the constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the Assembly, including Cabinet ministers, and accepted by HH the Amir. In order for the Islamist MPs to move the proposal to the next step, at least 44 MPs must approve it, which is unlikely to happen in this Assembly.

All previous attempts focused on trying to amend article two of the constitution to make Islamic sharia "the only source of legislation" instead of "Islam is a major source of legislation" as it reads in the current form. The difference between the two attempts is that in the first, all laws and legislation must be derived from sharia while in the second, it only requires laws not to be contradictory to sharia.

In other business, the two investigation committees held lengthy meetings late Saturday night that continued until early hours of yesterday. Head of the money transfer probe committee MP Mislem said the panel heard a number of senior officials at the office of the prime minister and was scheduled to meet foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled Al-Jarallah and other senior officials.

The committee is investigating allegations that former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah transferred millions of dinars of public funds into his own bank accounts overseas.

The other committee, probing allegations that former MPs received tens of millions of dinars of illegal money, also held a meeting Saturday night that lasted for eight hours in which it heard from several investment officials.

Head of the committee MP Barrak said the committee has decided to recommend to the Assembly to ask the government to suspend head of Kuwait Investment Company Bader Al-Subaie until the case had been probed. Barrak complained that some officials and departments are refusing to provide complete information to the committee like the ministry of justice's real estate registration department which refused to provide details of property owned by the former MPs under the pretext that the information was classified.

In another development, Barrak said he will provide the majority bloc with a draft grilling of Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali at the bloc's meeting next Sunday. If the bloc approves the grilling, it could mean the end of the finance minister's career in the Cabinet because the majority bloc has enough numbers to vote the minister out of office.

Also, the Assembly bureau decided yesterday to extend the current parliamentary term until Aug 2, which means the Assembly will hold sessions during the holy fasting month of Ramadan which starts around July 20.

The decision came to compensate part of the time lost after the early general election. The Assembly normally concludes its terms by the end of June.

 

Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights