20190517 Marzouq
Kuwait Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al Ghanim Image Credit: KUNA

Kuwait City: Marzouq Al Ghanim was re-elected as the speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly (parliament), during the opening session of the 16th legislative term.

Al Ghanim, who has held the position since 2013, ran against Bader Al Humaidi, the former Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Housing Affairs.

Out of the 64 members present, 33 members voted for Al Ghanim. The members of parliament are made up of the newly elected 50 MPs, including the 16 newly appointed ministers (one of whom is a member of parliament) all took part in the voting process. Since the voting process is done anonymously it is unclear who each member voted for.

Last week, following an informal meeting held by MP Abdul Karim Al Kandari, 42 MPs publicly declared they would back Al Humaidi’s nomination for speaker of parliament.

Prior to the opening session, several MPs asked that the voting process be done publicly. There was a dispute, during the session, between the MPs and the temporary speaker, Hamad Al Harshani, whether the Parliament’s procedural law (in Arabic known as Laehat Al Dakhleya) stipulates that the vote must be done anonymously or not.

The opening was moderated by Harshani, as per article 92 of the constitution which stipulates that the oldest member of parliament is the temporary speaker of the opening session until the voting process for speaker is finalised.

New Emir, new parliament

The opening session was attended by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and Crown Prince, Sheikh Mishal Al Ahmed Al Sabah.

During his opening speech, Sheikh Nawaf said, “There is no time left to fabricate crisis and delay achievements. Comprehensive reform requires coordination between the government, the parliament and the official that unites them.”

Change in speaker

The call to replace Al Ghanim as speaker was brought up a lot during the election cycle, as many candidates publicly stated that they will vote against the previous speaker if elected.

A few hours after the election results were finalised, on December 6, Al Humaidi announced he will be running for speaker.

On December 7, Bader Al Dahoom, previously an MP in the February 2012 parliament, called on the newly elected members to attend a meeting where they discussed a variety of issues. Most importantly, they agreed to replace Al Ghanim as speaker. In addition, they decided to hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide on a deputy speaker and establish a coordination committee; 38 MPs attended the meeting.