DOHA: In an unusual move, Kuwait’s opposition yesterday called for wide-ranging democratic reforms including a multiparty system to limit the powers of the country’s ruling family.
The call came in a “national political reform programme,” launched by Kuwait’s Opposition Coalition.
The coalition includes almost all opposition political groups, including Islamists, liberals and nationalists as well as trade and student unions, youth activists and civil society groups.
The programme proposes fundamental political, constitutional and legislative reforms to achieve a multiparty system and prevent members of the ruling family from leading the government.
The coalition called for amending 36 provisions of the 183-article constitution to restrict the wide powers held by ruling family.
“The constitutional reform clauses aim to make key amendments in the existing constitution for change into a complete parliamentary system with real sovereignty for the parliament…The failure of mixing the presidential and parliamentary systems has become a hindrance to achieving development goals and good governance,” said the reform document released by Opposition Coalition coordinator and former MP Mussallam Al Barrak at a press conference.
“Since declaration of the constitution in 1962, Kuwait has been facing a political crisis. The power of the ruling family has been increasing at the expense of the people,” it added.
The reforms require the Emir to invite the winning party leader of an election to form the cabinet, limiting the powers of the Emir under the current system and rationaling his right to dissolve parliament.
“The prime minister and the ministers should be members of the parliament to reflect the will of the nation… We want the ruling family to be completely out of the political process to bring about a ministry that is capable to shoulder full political responsibility,” said the document.
The programme also calls for the legalisation of political parties and for massive legislative reforms by amending and introducing 20 key laws focused on corruption, accountability and public freedoms. The coalition said it would seek peaceful methods to promote its reform programme including through rallies and gatherings.
The new reform call has invited mixed reaction from Kuwaiti citizens.
“Citizens have the right to freedom of expression. The opposition demands are the opinion of a group of citizens which are not against the law as long as they respect others’ opinion and don’t attempt to destabilize the country. When the opposition members were in the parliament, we could not hear about any reform project but they were sharing the pie with the corrupt people,” said a comment on a news website posted in response to the report.
“Now is the role of youths to take the responsibility to develop the country and solve the problems of the people,” it added.
“We are supporting these reform because they are calling to combat corruption… However, we cannot rule out chances that some opportunists who had quit their posts in the government are in the forefront of the project,” said another.