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Kuwait FM defends GCC security pact
March 17, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Kuwait’s foreign minister has defended the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security pact to be debated by the parliament next month, dismissing claims that its provisions clashed with the constitution.

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

However, the government has rejected the allegations and often stated that the pact was needed to boost the collective security of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the GCC member states.

“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 said, quoted by local daily Al Qabas on Monday.

The foreign minister was reportedly responding to a query by MP Raken Al Nisf about provisions in the Gulf agreement, mainly Article One.

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

“I urge the representatives of the nation 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.”

The fate of the pact in Kuwait could be decided on April 3 when the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee convenes to give its opinion.

Earlier this month, the 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 as well as on seven other bills,” MP Hamdan Al Azimi, the committee rapporteur, told the media following the meeting.

The parliament was scheduled to debate in March whether to endorse a Gulf security agreement between the six members of the Gulf alliance amid calls from the government for MPs to give their approval.

However, the task is proving formidable as many lawmakers have publicly voiced their opposition to the agreement, promoted by supporters as a boost to regional security and to enhancing inter-Gulf relations.

Kuwait’s parliament has over the last months seemed fractured after lawmakers appeared deeply divided over the merit of the GCC security pact.

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 said. 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 and that it clashed with its articles.

“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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