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GCC security pact may be referred to Constitutional Court
April 8, 2014, 12:49 pm
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A Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security pact is looming large again in Kuwait amid reports that it could be referred to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country.

The agreement endorsed by the other GCC members — Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — has been in the eye of the storm in Kuwait after it was supported by the government and some lawmakers, but rejected by other MPs.

Last week, the parliament’s foreign affairs committee turned down the pan-Gulf agreement by three votes to two after a panel of constitution experts failed to present their views on it within a one-month time frame and asked for an extension.

“The cabinet looked into the possibility of resorting to the Constitutional Court to resolve the issue,” local daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday.

However, the move is set to wade into controversy.

“The security agreement cannot be referred to the court until the parliament votes for or against it,” MP Ali Al Rashed, the head of the foreign committee at the parliament, told Al Rai.

“Cases are referred to the Constitutional Court only after they become laws or when there is a need to explain some provisions of the constitution,” the lawmaker who last week voted against the pact said.

Kuwaiti officials have been insisting that the provisions of the agreement were in line with the constitution and that endorsing the pact would bolster the collective security of the Gulf alliance.

Several lawmakers made statements that they would vote against the pan-Gulf security agreement, insisting that it violated the text and spirit of the country’s constitution.

The government has rejected allegations that the agreement violates the constitution and often stressed its significance for the country and the region.

“Article One of the GCC security agreement does not clash with the Kuwaiti constitution, and there is no way that we endorse any law or decision that is against our constitution,” Shaikh Sabah Al Khalid, the foreign minister, said last month.

Earlier, Oil Minister and Parliament Affairs State Minister Ali Al 0mair said that the government would not refer anything that contradicted the constitution to the parliament.

“I urge the [parliament members] to read the articles of the Gulf agreement objectively,” he said.

“The first article of the agreement is very clear about the significance of the national legislation of each of the member states. National legislation and international agreements take precedence over the Gulf agreement. The Gulf agreement clearly stresses the independence of each member state,” Al 0mair said.

In March, the foreign affairs committee said that more studies and further consultations with experts were needed before the voting by the parliament should go ahead.

“We have decided to postpone the voting on the security agreement,” MP Hamdan Al Azimi told the media following the meeting.

The parliament was scheduled to debate in March whether to endorse the pact amid calls from the government to the MPs to give their approval.

A poll published by local daily Al Qabas indicated that 19 lawmakers were against the agreement, while only eight would support it. The report said that 21 lawmakers had yet to make up their minds on how to vote. Pushing for a yes vote, the government insisted that the pact was not unconstitutional, as some lawmakers who opposed it have claimed.

Khalid Al Jarallah, foreign ministry undersecretary, said that the pact was in accordance with the Kuwaiti constitution.

“People should go through the articles of the agreement cautiously in order to appreciate them,” he said.

“It clearly states that the national legislation is always sovereign. In fact, the term of national legislation was mentioned five times, which means that they take precedence and that they cannot be abolished or ignored, particularly the constitution.”

However, Al Azimi said that the Gulf security agreement was not in line with the Kuwaiti constitution.

“The agreement cannot be accepted under any circumstance,” he said.

“There is a need for pressure from the parliament to explain some of its articles, particularly the extradition of suspects and the definition of crime. There is a need for popular pressure to make sure the agreement is not endorsed. We cannot please some countries at the expense of Kuwait and its interest.”

 

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