Kuwait Parliament: Islamists Seek Sharia Amendment
The Islamists who swept the Kuwaiti parliamentary elections last week are already clamoring for a critical constitutional amendment that would make sharia the only source of law of the land.
Kuwait – Kuwait’s Islamist opposition and their allies won a major victory in the recent parliamentary elections that took place on February 2.
Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah once again asked Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah to form a government. The latter began consultations on this matter immediately, while the Islamists began to make some very significant demands, including constitutional reforms in line with Islamic law.
It is expected that the new government will be formed in the next few days, before the first session of the National Assembly, set for February 15.
The government must participate in the opening session, as ministers are tasked with voting in the head of the assembly.
It seems that the appointed prime minister is trying, as far as possible, to form a government that would succeed in overcoming the thorny issues, particularly as he became prime minister last November after the resignation of Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah. Al-Sabah headed seven consecutive governments and was accused of being involved in corruption on a wide scale.
Experience shows that the success of a Kuwaiti government depends on the degree of cooperation with the National Assembly and not just on the ministers selected.
The refusal of the opposition – particularly those belonging to the Constitutional Movement representing the Muslim Brotherhood – to join the government, combined with the high demands of the Islamists, shows that the future relationship between the regime and the opposition will probably not improve.
The Islamist MPs are hoping to make use of their momentum in the elections to achieve their demands. Perhaps the first of these is to amend some clauses in the constitution in line with Islamic law.
They want to amend the second clause, for example, by adding “the” to the words “principal source” to become “Islamic law is the principal source for legislation,” instead of “Islamic law is a principal source for legislation.”
Meanwhile, the battle for the speaker of the National Assembly has started to heat up. The MP close to the government, Ali al-Rashed, withdrew in favor of Mohammad Jassem al-Saqer.
The battle is now between al-Saqr, who is supported by the government, and Ahmad Saadoun, who is backed by the Islamist opposition.
Sources say that the Islamists and those close to them – who make up 30 out of 50 MPs – are leaning towards voting for Saadoun under an implicit agreement that he would accept the amendment to the second clause of the constitution.
It appears that the regime doesn’t have any easy choices before it in the election of a speaker for the National Assembly.
If it supports al-Saqr through the votes of government ministers and the MPs on it side, the regime may provoke more intransigence and an escalation by the opposition, with Saadoun at its head.
But if it supports Saadoun, the move would be construed as a concession to the opposition. The ruling family had already conceded to the opposition when it changed the government of Nasser al-Muhammad and dissolved parliament.
Moreover, there is an atmosphere of increased pressure on freedoms, and it has started to show.
The Islamist MP, Waleed al-Tabtabai warned against leniency with shopkeepers over selling gifts for Valentine’s Day, demanding that the ministry of interior carry out the necessary measures to stand up to these shops to prevent them from exhibiting or selling any products to do with Valentine’s Day.
Meanwhile, sources in the Virgin Megastore have revealed that the company is going to close its only branch in Kuwait at the end of this month because the “work environment has become very difficult under the pressure we are experiencing from the ministry of information.”
Company sources said that “60 percent of the products in our other branches are prohibited in Kuwait, including books, films, and music.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.