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Kuwait parliament divided over Gulf security pact
February 12, 2014, 4:05 pm
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Kuwait’s parliament this week seemed fractured after lawmakers appeared deeply divided over the merit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security pact.

The parliament is scheduled to debate next month 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.

A poll published by local daily Al Qabas on Wednesday indicated that 19 lawmakers were against the agreement, while only eight would support it. The report said that 21 lawmakers have not made up their minds about how to vote yet.

Pushing for a yes-vote, the government insisted that the pact was not unconstitutional, as some lawmakers who opposed it have said.

Oil Minister and Parliament Affairs State Minister Ali Al 0mair said in media statements that the government would not refer anything that contradicts 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,” he said.

Khalid Al Jarallah, the 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,” he said.

However, MP Hamdan 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, quoted by Al Qabas. “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,” he said.

The security pact is seen as crucial in boosting collective security among the six-member states, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The security pact was approved by the GCC leaders at their advisory summit in Riyadh in May 2012, but it needed to be signed by the interior ministers and endorsed by their parliaments. The ministers inked their approval in November.

GCC officials said that the agreement stipulated full cooperation between member states and mutual responsibilities to preserve their collective security and stability.

The pact also highlights the need to promote common security arrangements to the highest standards to help combat transnational and organised crime, they said.

The member countries said at the Bahrain Summit in 2012 that they endorsed an amended version of a Gulf security pact first announced at the Bahrain Summit in December 1994.

“The agreement aims to broaden cooperation, to unify and integrate security measures and to exchange expertise, potential and information in a manner that helps the concerned security agencies to assume their tasks according to the highest standards,” Bahrain’s foreign minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said.

 

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