March 6, 2011 By

Kuwait’s Opposition Calls for Multi-Party Democracy

kuwaitKuwait’s Opposition on Saturday called for wide ranging democratic reforms including a Western-style party system to limit the powers of the country’s ruling family. The move launched in a “national political reform program,” by the Opposition Coalition, proposes fundamental political, constitutional and legislative reforms to achieve a multi-party system and to prevent members of the Al-Sabah family from leading the Government.

The Coalition includes all Opposition political groups, including Islamists, liberals and nationalists as well as trade and student unions, youth activists and civil society groups.  Ever since the declaration of the constitution in 1962, all the successive governments have been led by a senior figure from the Al Sabah family whose members also always occupied the key ministries of interior, defense and foreign affairs.  The reforms called for the amendment of 36 provisions of the 183-article constitution to restrict the wide powers held by the ruling family. “We want to end the faulty confusion between the presidential and parliamentary systems,” said the reform document released by Opposition Coalition Coordinator and former MP Mussallam al-Barrak at a press conference.

The program requires the emir to invite the winning party leader of an election to form the cabinet, limiting his powers under the current system and rationaling his right to dissolve the Parliament.  It also calls for the legalization of political parties and for massive legislative reforms by amending and introducing 20 key laws focused on corruption, accountability and public freedoms.  The Coalition also said that it would seek peaceful methods to promote its reform program, including through rallies and gatherings.

The Opposition held street protests in 2011 and 2012 which remained futile. There have been political disputes since mid-2006, with a dozen governments formed and parliament dissolved six times.

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