Bahrain Shura backs bid to curb MPs' powers
Manama, June 13, 2014
Bahrain’s Shura Council members yesterday (June 13) backed parliament's proposal to limit its powers after approving a change in the way MPs are allowed to question government ministers.
Previously, a minister could be summoned to parliament if merely a majority of MPs voted in favour of the request, but under the government-drafted amendment to parliament's by-laws approved last week by MPs an absolute majority is now required, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
In real terms, this means that 27 out of a total of 40 MPs must vote in favour of questioning before a minister can be summoned, despite the fact that only 21 MPs are required for a vote to take place.
Shura Council legislative and legal affairs committee chairwoman Dalal Al Zayed denied that the amendment would limit parliament's powers, insisting instead that it would prevent frivolous questioning.
"The amendment will strengthen parliament's powers because it will mean that only solid cases are looked into, which gives the legislative authority more credibility," she said.
"The current system sees a group of MPs asking to question ministers - even if it is based on unrealistic accusations, and this amendment is a step towards correcting this."
Shura Council will take a vote to refer the amendment to His Majesty King Hamad on Monday after a technical glitch forced yesterday's extraordinary session to end early.
The glitch caused computer systems in the chamber to show that only 19 out of 40 council members were present, despite the general-secretariat insisting that the head count was at the required minimum of 21.
Council second vice-chairwoman Dr Bahiya Al Jishi, who was deputised in the absence of chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh, decided to call it a day after trying and failing to send someone out to find the two missing council members.
Earlier, outspoken member Dr Lulwa Al Awadhi had also caused disruption by storming out of the session after she was refused an apology from her colleague Abdulrahman Jamsheer for allegedly calling her "two-faced".
Jamsheer denied that his remarks, about interfering in parliament's affairs, were directed at Dr Al Awadhi. – TradeArabia News Service