Research Paper: Saudi Consultant Council vs. National Assembly of Kuwait

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¶ … Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia

3A brief History of the Saudi Arabia's consultative assembly

National Assembly of Kuwait

Majlis al-Ummah (Council of the Ummah)

Similarities between Majlis al-Ummah and Majlis al-Ummah

Differences

Good leadership is required for democracy to exist in various countries. Last couple of years marked a turning point in politics and leadership in the Arab world (Heydemann, 2006). A revaluation of the Arab spring revealed that many people in Saudi Arabia asked for election to be applied for the Shura council members, which created more pressure on the government who tried to make it more effective without elections. While in Kuwait many ministers were called for investigation for many times which resulted in the collapse of the Omma council. In this paper, we focus on the purpose of each council, but with more focus on the differences between them.

The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia

The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, also referred to as the Shura Counci or Majlis as-Shura is a consultative body in Saudi Arabia which has a legislative authority to advice the King on matters that are important to the country (Information Office of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia,2011).This is a modern version of the previous system that had traditional Islamic concept of having an accessible leader who consults with learned as well as experienced individuals (Citizens). Currently the Consultative Council has 150 members who are all presidential appointee for a 4-year term which is renewable. On the basis of the experience of the members, each one of them is assigned to a special committee. There exist a total of twelve committees that covers the following sectors/services; human right, culture, health and social affairs, culture, security, services and public utilities, Islamic affairs, foreign affairs, finance as well as economy and industry. The formal is a formal advisory authority of Saudi Arabia, a nation which is an absolute monarchy.

The council can never pass or even enforce laws as these roles and powers are preserved for the Saudi King. The Consultative Assembly has very limited powers in the running of the Government as they can not propose laws. The 150 members who are all presidential appointee are headed by a Speaker. In September, 2011, the Saudi King categorically stated that women will be nominated to served in the Shura Council (BBC,2011;Observer,2011).This was viewed by the global community as a nice gestured towards women's rights.

There have been several proposals to modernize the Consultative Assembly in order to make significant changes to the methods used by the council.

Powers

The Saudi Arabian Consultative Assembly is mandated and given the power and authority to propose various draft laws as then appropriately forward them to the Saudi Arabian King. The powers to pass as well as enforce the laws are however preserved for the King. The Consultative Assembly however has the powers to effectively interpret laws and even examine the annual reports that are referred to it by the various state ministries as well as agencies. The council can also advice the Saudi Arabian King on various policies that are submitted to it by the King. Also to be analyzed and recommendations made to the King are economic plans and international treaties. The Consultative Assembly also has the authority to review Saudi Arabia's annual budget as well as call in various ministers for any necessary questioning (Wilson and Graham, 1994).

A brief History of the Saudi Arabia's consultative assembly

The new Majlis Ash-Shura Law was decreed by King Fahd on the 24th November, 2000 in order to replace the old one. He however, decreed the council bylaws as well as their appropriate supplements on the 22nd of August 1993. In 2011, the King stated that the council will include women among its ranks.

Leadership

The Committees

As mentioned earlier, the Assembly has a total of 12 committees which is made up of:

Islamic, Judicial Affairs as well as Human Rights Committee

Economic Affairs and Energy Committee

Security Affairs Committee

Educational and Scientific Research Affairs

Cultural and Informational Affairs Committee

Foreign Affairs Committee

Financial Affairs Committee

Health and Environmental Affairs Committee

Transportation, Communications, Information Technology Committee

Water and Public Facilities and Services Committee

Administration, Human Resources and Petitions Committee

National Assembly of Kuwait

According to Baaklini, Denoeux and Springborg (1999), Kuwait's experience with the parliamentary system of politics sets is apart with its neighbors in the entire Gulf region. The root of the country's parliamentary system and experience can be traced from its past. In the early 1938, when the country was still a British Protectorate, a 14-member national Legislative Council called Majlis al-Umma al Tashri'i was constituted in order to help in checking the powers of the then ruling al-Sabah gamily. This council was formed a consequence of pressure spanning two decades from the leading and influential merchant families. This arguably is what gave rise to the current Majlis al-Umma (Baaklini, Denoeux and Springborg, 1999).

Majlis al-Ummah (Council of the Ummah)

The Majlis al-Ummah is traditionally a part of the Islamic ruing structure (Richard, 2011). In Kuwait, the Majlis Al-Umma ("House of the Nation") is also known as the National Assembly of Kuwait. The Emir dissolved the National Assembly sometime in 1986 in an unconstitutional fashion and then restored it later on after the Gulf War (Surhone, Tennoe and Henssonow,2011).The Emir has also constitutionally dissolved the National Assembly severally but these dissolutions were often followed by immediate elections.

Until recently, the suffrage was kind of limited only to the male Kuwaiti citizens who are aged above 21 years and whose ancestors had been residents of Kuwaiti since the year 1920 (Baaklini, Denoeux and Springborg,1999) as well as male adults who are have been naturalized citizens for a period not less than twenty years. In 2006, the Assembly passed a law which effectively legitimized women suffrage and hence allowing women to vote as well as run for office. The Assembly is made up of fifty seats which are elected every four years. At the moment, there is a total of 5 geographically distributed electoral districts (Baaklini, Denoeux and Springborg,1999).Each and every Kuwaiti is entitled a total of four votes even though one may chose to cast just a single vote. The 10 candidates who receive the most votes in every district then win the seats. The cabinet ministers who include the prime minister are given automatic membership of the Kuwaiti national Assembly. This effectively increases the total number of members to sixty. The cabinet ministers and the elected MPs have similar rights. Except with two exceptions that the cabinet ministers can never be part of work committees and can also never vote when any given interpolation results to a vote of no-confidence against one of the serving Cabinet ministers.

In the traditional sense of Islam religion, Majlis al-Ummah deals with issues that are mubar and do not necessarily need experts to make conclusions. Such decisions by the Majlis al-Ummah are referred to as 'mashura'.The opinion of the majority are taken as the binding opinion since mubah issue have no wrong or rights. The leader (Khaleefah) is therefore obliged to obey the opinion expressed by the Majlis al-Ummah if they are the opinions contained and recognized by the legal parts of Majlis al-Ummah.

How the Majlis al-Ummah relates to the president and other state organs (Khalifah,2006)

The individuals who represent the Muslim body and therefore voice the opinions of the Muslims to the head of state are known as the Majlis al-Ummah (ut-Tahrir,2005).It is important to note that non-Muslim are allowed to participate in certain session of the Majlis as a sign of democracy. This is also aimed at presenting various complaints that may arise on the oppression by the ruling apparatus.

Election

In the traditional sense, members of the Majlis al-Ummah are traditional elected by the people and without any gender distinction on who become members.

Political faction within Majlis al-Ummah

Even though political parties are not recognized in Kuwait legally, a number of them do exist. The Kuwaiti assembly is composed of secera; political parties from various different political factions in addition to the independents.

They are;

The Islamic bloc which has Hadas and Salafi members

The Liberal bloc which is mainly enjoys the support of women suffrage

The Shaabi/populist bloc which is a coalition of the nationalist and independent parties

Similarities between Majlis al-Shura and Majlis al-Ummah

Both councils serve in predominately Muslim countries and are guided by Islam as the founding faith. Both have also embrace gender equality by allowing women among their ranks. Both are involved in the making and scrutiny of various state policies. The Majlis al-Shura and Majlis al-Ummah both have a change/renewal in their leadership after a four-year period.Both the Majlis al-Shura and Majlis al-Ummah cannot formulate any legislation but can scrutinize the laws and policies in order to give appropriate recommendations to the country's leadership.

Differences

Majlis al-Shura members are appointed by the King while Majlis al-Ummah members are elected by the people. Majlis al-Shura session do… [END OF PREVIEW]

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