Kuwait’s opposition lawmakers were left licking their wounds after their disunity became pronounced on the first days in parliament, losing soundly the speakership and two major committees.
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At their last meeting before the parliament convened for the first time on Sunday, opposition lawmakers were certain they would have at least 27 ballots for their two candidates, Abdullah Al Roumi and Shoaib Al Muwaizri, who were challenging Marzooq Al Ganem, the outgoing Speaker seeking a new term.
However, Al Ganem handily defeated the two challengers after he received 48 of the votes in the secret balloting, the second highest number of votes for a Speaker in Kuwait. The score was much higher than the one he had in 2013 when the opposition was not represented in parliament.
Al Roumi got nine and Al Muwaizri eight in a contest that many had thought would be singularly tight following the campaigns launched before the election of the parliament to ensure the outgoing Speaker is not re-elected.
The opposition which boycotted the 2013 elections had long charged that Al Ganem was rather compliant with the government and should not be re-elected.
The dismal score of only 17 votes by the opposition prompted outspoken MP Waleed Al Tabtabaei to talk about a betrayal.
“There are 11 lawmakers who betrayed and were not honest from their first day in parliament since they did not vote the way they promised,” he posted on his Twitter account. “We may not know them for sure, but what is certain is that their stances in the days to come will reveal them.”
Several lawmakers resorted to their Twitter accounts to come clean out of the debacle and insisted that they had voted for one of the two challengers supported by the opposition.
“The results of the speaker’s election confirm that there is an ominous issue. Several lawmakers have not honoured their pledge and desisted from assuming their responsibilities,” MP Marzooq Al Khalifa said, quoted by Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas.
Another lawmaker, Ali Al Daqbassi, said that the opposition failed to move forward.
“In fact, we took a step backwards despite our long talks about reforms, developments and achievements,” he said.
MP Saadoon Al Hamad charged that some lawmakers struck a deal and changed their opinions.
The opposition suffered a second defeat after they lost the election for the financial and economic affairs committee and the interior and defence committee, seen as major ones.
Speaker Al Ganem said on his Twitter account that he decided to honour his pledge to forget past grievances and start a new chapter by pardoning social media users who attacked him and dropping the legal cases he had filed against them.
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