Kuwait's Amir respects court ruling, urges unity against chaos
Kuwait's Amir delivers his speech last night
KUWAIT: HH the Kuwait's Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah affirmed full respect to the constitutional court’s ruling yesterday, calling on his fellow Kuwaitis to unite against “voices of chaos”, sedition and democracy. “I repeat what I have said before that I accept … the ruling of the constitutional court regardless of its content, and I call upon all citizens to respect it and abide by it,” Sheikh Sabah said in a speech to the nation following the constitutional court’s ruling. Complying with the court’s ruling will reflect “respect to our high esteem judiciary … and commitment to our constitution. This is what we have always been keen on and will always be God’s willing,” said the Amir.
Sheikh Sabah said he instructed the Cabinet to comply with the court’s ruling, which obsessed people and triggered an atmosphere of “anxiety and tension”. “Now we have to leave this issue and its deliberate aftermath behind us, and continue the march of reform and development, realizing the lessons of this experience,” he said. Sheikh Sabah affirmed that Kuwait “is a state of institutions ruled by the constitution and law, and there is no authority nor ceiling above the authority of the right and justice.” Citizens should be keen to seek the judiciary to settle differences “which is a civilized aspect … and a victory for democracy that every Kuwaiti citizen should be proud of,” he added.
The Amir said Kuwait was victorious and that he appreciated the people who expressed their principled positions and bore their national responsibility to enforcing democracy and complying with the constitution. Sheikh Sabah said he excused those who deviated from the right path, and thanked the speaker and members of parliament for their faithful efforts to carrying out their national unity as well as their achievements.
Sheikh Sabah called upon all people to follow footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers who were known for their “forgiveness, cooperation, clean heart and hand, respect of the old and taking care of the young”. The Amir said he carried no “grudges” against anyone, and that the unity of the ruler with his people was a “major element in our Kuwaiti community”. He said democracy in Kuwait was based on shura, or consultation, and was then complimented by the constitution which was written by representatives of the people through dialogue, consensus and understanding. “It was the agreement and consensus of everybody,” he added.
Sheikh Sabah said democracy in Kuwait did not materialize overnight “but after a long chain of experiments and practices”. “Our community in Kuwait is not an exception from other communities; we are all responsible to protecting and developing our democratic system to achieve our hopes and aspirations … without the domination of one segment or control of a group or sidelining another but to guarantee the representation of all Kuwaiti segments,” he said.
Democracy should be developed to improve participation of the public, boost dialogue, understanding and consensus, accept differences of opinions, respect views of others, reject violence and extremism, reject personal interests, not to attack others, and place Kuwait’s interest first, he said. “This is the sound democratic practices we seek to achieve, to develop our democracy via dialogue, consensus, understanding and consultation which serves the interest of the nation and citizens,” said the Amir.
Sheikh Sabah said that “we all should respect” the constitution as well as “feel proud of our just judiciary that we always seek”. He called for the respect and support of the judiciary because “we cannot but accept and respect” its rulings. He said the Kuwaiti people have proven their loyalty to their country, keenness on its security and stability. Kuwaitis “reject calls of sedition and division, reject voices of chaos and stick to their national unity and support their leadership”, he said.
Sheikh Sabah voiced concern over “sick sectarian” signs in the Kuwaiti community “which might trigger extremism and spark destructive discord, a matter rejected and condemned by every faithful Kuwaiti”. “We will not allow our country to be a place for sectarian conflicts and settlement of sick scores,” affirmed the Amir, “nor allow discord to poison our solid community.”
Sheikh Sabah highlighted Kuwait’s support for Arabs and Muslims out of its keenness to backing “principles of justice”. He underlined that security of Kuwait “is a sacred duty … and it is on top of priorities”. “There shall be no construction, no development, no economy, no services, no schools and no hospitals with the lack of security,” affirmed the Kuwaiti leader. “Protecting the country is a collective responsibility … which require wisdom and spirit of responsibility…,” he said.
Sheikh Sabah said the top priority now was to protect Kuwait from “disasters surrounding us, maintaining its security and stability, shield it from storms which roar near us, (which) burn the country and kill the people, and spread destruction, as hundreds of innocent people are being killed or injured every day and millions are displaced.” Sheikh Sabah said urged Kuwaitis to learn lessons of events “happening not far from us.” He said that the road was long and full of “difficulties and challenges … but the unity, cooperation and solidarity of Kuwaitis are capable of achieving success and objectives”.
Court upholds one-vote decree, scraps assembly – New elections to be held – Opposition slams ruling
KUWAIT: The Head of the court’s five-judge panel Youssef Al-Mutawa read out the verdict in the Palace of Justice auditorium that was packed with journalists and lawyers.
The court, whose verdicts are final, called for holding fresh elections on the basis of the single-vote law that has been repeatedly described by the opposition as unconstitutional. The court based its decision to scrap the Assembly for the second time in a year on the basis that another Amiri decree issued in October last year to establish the National Election Committee is “unconstitutional”, saying there was no urgency in issuing the decree. In June last year, the constitutional court nullified the election process and scrapped the opposition-dominated Assembly that was elected in Feb 2012 on the basis of flawed procedures. A few months later, HH the Amir issued the controversial decree to amend the electoral law under a clause in the constitution that gives the Amir the right to issue laws when the Assembly is absent or dissolved.
The decree amended the electoral constituency law by reducing the number of candidates a voter can pick from a maximum of four to just one. Accordingly, the decree was known as the single-vote law. The court explained that the executive authority has the full right to issue legislation when the Assembly is dissolved and pointed out that the amendment decree could not wait until the Assembly came back. As a result, the court said the controversial decree served national interests, adding that many democratic countries in the world have a single-vote system in elections.
Cabinet held an emergency
The cabinet held an emergency meeting to look into the details and the measures that could be taken.
“We are proud with the commitment of the court to justice and we hail the honesty of our judges,” the cabinet said. “The constitution remains the ultimate judge on all legal interpretations and differences. The cabinet has tasked the competent parties to look into the ruling and follow up on the measures to be taken to implement it,” the cabinet said a few hours after the court pronounced its much-anticipated verdict.
The National Action Bloc said that it respected the ruling by the Constitutional Court in upholding the “one voter, one vote” decree.
“We remain committed to the constitution and to the law in the state of institutions that has given the Constitutional Court the right to decide in cases of divergences. We urge everybody to respect the constitution and the justice system. We totally reject taking to the streets and undermine public security,” the bloc said in a statement.
Outgoing parliament Speaker Ali Al Rashed
Outgoing parliament Speaker Ali Al Rashed said that he looked forward to the national elections. “May God be with us,” he said. “The most important thing is the stability of Kuwait. We will be all gone at a certain stage, but Kuwait shall remain.”
For the man who was Speaker between December and June, the advisors are to blame for the situation. “They are the ones who have pushed the decision makers into this situation,” he said.
Former MP Salman Al Dabboos said that all the political formations had to accept the court’s ruling. However, he singled out the decision to dissolve the parliament.
“This is a historic moment in the political life of Kuwait and everybody should accept it. I hope that the ruling will contribute to marking the start of new democratic practices in Kuwait and the end of the tension that hit the country for some time. It is fine to have divergent views as long as there is the constitution to act as the arbitrator.”
Observers spoke about alternatives that may include delaying the polls until after summer holidays. Members of the opposition strongly lashed out at the court ruling. Former MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei said it was “the worst decision” because it confirmed the single-vote legislation, while former MP Mohammad Al-Kandari said it has practically withdrawn the power of the people to legislate and rested it in the hands of the government.
Former MP Mubarak Al-Waalan said the only outcome for the political stalemate in the country is to “withdraw the decree”.
The opposition, which reiterated last Wednesday a pledge that they will not participate in any future election on the single-vote basis, went into an emergency meeting at former speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun’s residence to review the ruling and come out with a unified position. However, the liberal National Action Bloc welcomed the verdict out of respect for the constitutional court and its rulings. Information Minister Sheikh Salman Humoud Al-Sabah said it would boost democracy in Kuwait. “The court’s decision today enhances the durability of the democratic system that is enjoyed by Kuwait.
Kuwait has a proud history of respecting the constitution and maintaining the rule of law,” the minister said. Analysts and observers said the court’s verdict will not contribute to resolving the political crisis that has been raging for over a year and it is expected to escalate tension in the country. But it was clear yesterday that a section of the opposition is expected to contest the coming election.