Kuwaitis marked yesterday the 51st anniversary of the state’s first Constitution which was endorsed during the reign of Kuwait’s 11th ruler late Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. On Nov 11, 1962, the late Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah promulgated the Constitution for Kuwait to become the first Arab state in the Gulf region to issue a constitution and have a parliament. “We, Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, desiring to use the means of democratic rule for our dear country; and, having faith in the role of this country in furthering Arab nationalism and the promotion of world peace and human civilization; “And, striving towards a better future in which the country enjoys greater prosperity and higher international standing, and in which also the citizens are provided with more political freedom, equality, and social justice, a future which upholds the traditions inherent in the Arab nation by enhancing the dignity of the individual, safeguarding public interest, and applying consultative rule yet maintaining the unity and stability of the country, and, I having considered Law Number I of 1962 concerning the system of Government during the period of transition; and, upon the resolution of the Constituent Assembly; do hereby approve this Constitution and promulgate it,” the then Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem wrote in the permeable of the constitution. Kuwaitis elected the Constituent Assembly in January 1962, to draft the first constitution of the state which will regulate authorities and freedoms.
The Assembly was chaired by Abdullatif Thunayyan Al-Ghanim, with Dr Ahmad Al-Khateeb as vice chairman. In his inaugural speech to the Constituent Assembly, Sheikh Abdullah Al- Salem called for unity so as to best serve the interests of the country and its people, adding that this assembly would bear the burden of setting the main bases for Kuwait’s future. A five-member committee was formed to oversee this constitution-drafting, including then Interior Minister Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Al-Ghanim, Al- Khateeb, then Justice Minister Homoud Al-Zaid Al-Khalid, and member of the Assembly Saud Abdulaziz Al- Abdulrazzaq. The panel held a total of 23 sessions, the first of which was on March 17, 1962 and the last was on Oct 27, 1962. The draft constitution was presented by Al-Ghanim to Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem on Nov 8, Sheikh Abdullah Al- Salem ratified the constitution on Nov 11.
The first parliamentary elections were held in the country after 72 days of the Constitution ratification, on Jan 23, 1963. The Kuwaiti Constitution is made up of 183 articles divided into five parts: The State and the System of Government; Fundamental Constituents of the Kuwaiti Society; Public Rights and Duties; Powers; and General and Transitional Provisions. On Feb 10, 1980, late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah formed a 35-member committee to amend the constitution. The committee held its first meetings on Feb 19, 1980 with the attendance of late Sheikh Saad Al- Abdullah Al-Sabah. The committee concluded its work on June 22, 1980, after meeting for 18 weeks. During the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the constitution united all Kuwaitis inside the state and abroad. Kuwaiti leaders gathering in the Saudi city of Jeddah in October 1990 announced their full commitment to the Constitution and loyalty to the legitimate Al-Sabah rulers, which kept Kuwaitis morale high till their country was finally liberated in February 1991. Since the enforcement of the Constitution, Kuwaiti National Assembly held 14 legislative terms and 33 governments were formed. —- KUNA