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The constituent assembly .. A turning point in Kuwait’s political history

January 20, 1962 marked the inauguration of Kuwait’s Constituent Assembly, a turning point in the Gulf state’s history and first step towards a democratic state, the first-of-a-kind in the Gulf region.

The late Amir Sheikh Abullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah issued a decree in August 1961 forming a higher council tasked with working on a law organizing constituent assembly elections.

The law divided the country into 10 electoral areas from which two representatives would be elected via secret ballot. Members of assembly would amount to 20 elected representatives as well as appointed ministers.

The law also specified that an elected representative must not be younger than 30 years of age, and that he masters the Arabic language in reading and writing.

On December 30 of the same year, elections were held and 20 members were elected. They were joined by appointed members of government, dubbed transitional government, formed on January 17 by decree of Amir.

The government included 14 ministers, 11 of which were members of the royal family, and three were elected members. In the morning of January 20, 1962, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem inaugurated the assembly in a speech declaring principles of democracy, and describing it as a pillar of the modern state and he affirmed that it was the duty of the assembly to propose modes of governance qualified for a democratic future.

During that session, Abdulateef Thunayan Al-Ghanim was chosen as assembly speaker and Dr. Ahmad Alkhateeb as deputy.

The assembly formed a committee of five personnel to draft the constitution, including all of Yaqoub AlHumaidhi, Humoud Al-Khaled, Abdulateef Al-Ghanim, Saud Al-Abdulrazzaq as well as late Father Amir Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah. The committee accomplished its task in 23 meetings between March of 1962 and October of the same year, and handed in its report to the assembly, which discussed and voted on it.

The Amir rectified and published the constitution on November 11, 1962.

Assembly speaker at the time, Abdulatif Al-Ghanim, stated while handing in constitution draft to the late Amir, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem, that it was a great honor for the committee to work on a constitution built on the principles of democracy and inspired by the reality of Kuwait, in an effort to achieve the hopes of the Amir for his people.

On his part, the late Amir replied thanking the assembly for the significant efforts in achieving the hopes and aspirations of the people for a democratic future that goes hand in hand with Kuwaiti culture and traditions.

On January 15, 1963, the constituent Assembly held its’ final meeting with then Acting Prime Minister and later Amir of Kuwait the late Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah delivered a speech commending the work of the constituent assembly on the constitution, which would be the bedrock of democracy in the country.

On January 23 of following year, and after concluding the works of the constituent assembly, the first National Assembly elections were held, in accordance to the newly instated constitution, which remains to be the governing doctrine to this day.

The first election saw the participation of 250 candidates for the 50 seats in parliament, while eligible voters reached 16,889 in ten constituencies.

The constitution of Kuwait consists of 183 articles focusing on the state and the system of government, fundamental constituents of the Kuwaiti Society, public rights and duties, as well as the separation of powers.

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