Kuwaiti Emir issues pardons in ‘national reconciliation’ push

The government expects the move to remove obstacles to development and support reform plans

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf has pardoned at least 37 people, including political figures and members of the ruling family. AFP
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Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf has pardoned at least 37 people, including political figures and members of the ruling family, in a move hailed by the government as a step towards national reconciliation.

The move is expected to lead to “fruitful co-operation between the executive and legislative authorities, in accordance with the constitutional foundations”, the Council of Ministers said on Tuesday.

It will also remove obstacles to development and support reform plans to “create an atmosphere for working as a team to advance everything that is in the interest of the country and its citizens”.

The list of those pardoned includes Kuwaitis living abroad, who were sentenced in absentia. The Council of Ministers said the Emir’s decree covered a group of people “shrouded in the clothes of exile”.

Former MP Musallam Al Barrak is surrounded by supporters in Kuwait after he arrived from Turkey in November 2021, following the pardon decree by the Emir. AFP

They include three members of the ruling family — former security official Athbi Al Sabah, Khalifa Al Sabah and Ahmed Al Sabah.

The three are among five defendants whose prison terms were upheld by the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation in May 2017 after they were sentenced to five years in jail each on charges of insulting senior figures on social media.

Kuwaiti women’s rights activist Dalal Almusallam, currently in exile in London, confirmed on Wednesday that she had been pardoned.

She welcomed the move but said she would not return to the country unless she was given a ministerial post.

Kuwaiti MPs attend a National Assembly session in Kuwait City last week. AFP

Also pardoned was Abdulhamid Dashti, a Shiite former member of parliament who has lived in exile in Geneva since 2016.

He was sentenced in absentia on several charges, including that of insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Mr Dashti, with an accumulated 73 years in prison terms, confirmed that he had been pardoned.

“I will return once all those who have been pardoned in exile have returned. I will announce the date of my return to the homeland at a later time,” he said.

The names of those pardoned were published in local newspapers.

Sheikh Nawaf's move comes amid a continuing impasse between parliament and the government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah, the Emir's son.

Two ministers are expected to be questioned by MPs next week after the government withdrew from and boycotted a parliamentary session last week.

The Emir issued two decrees in 2021 granting pardons or reduced sentences to 35 dissidents to fulfil the demands of members of the previous parliament that was dissolved after a months-long stand-off with the government.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 11:59 AM