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State Structure

Constitution

"Kuwait is a fully independent Arab State with a democratic style of government, where sovereignty rests with the nation, which is the source of power." As prescribed by the constitution, the system of government is based on the separation of powers, although co-operation is required by the Constitution. The legislative authority is vested in the Amir and the national Assembly, while executive power is vested exclusively in the Amir and his Cabinet and Ministers.

The Constitution of the Senate of Kuwait is based on the democratic principles and combines the positive aspects of both presidential and parliamentary systems prevalent in advanced democratic countries. The pillars of the Constitution are the sovereignty of the State, public freedom and equality before the law.

Kuwait constitution is a written one legislated by contract. It was laid down by a constituent assembly of 20 members elected by people. 11 ministers were added to them from outside the assembly. These ministers refrained to vote on the constitution articles while being passed in the constituent assembly as they wished to the elected members alone to do so. Preparation and discussion of the articles of constitution took almost 6 months. On 11/1/1962, the will of Kuwait's Amir, the deceased Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Al-Sabah, corresponded with that of people's representatives and ratified the draft constitution as the representatives drew it without any amendment to its articles. The constitution came into force on 29/1/1963 when the first Kuwaiti National Assembly convened.

The Amir

The Amir is the head of the State. His person shall be immune and inviolable." The Constitution states that the Amir assumes his authority through his ministers. The Prime Minister and Ministers are collectively responsible to the Amir for the general policy of the State and each Minister is responsible for his own Ministry. "The Amir is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces."

"Any Law is issued only after being approved by the National Assembly, and sanctioned by the Amir".

Kuwait is the hereditary Amirate, the succession to which shall be through the descendents of the late Mubarak Al-Sabah.

The present Amir is His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

As well as His Highness's principal responsibilities as the Amir of the State of Kuwait and the powers vested in him with regard to vital and strategic issues, many matters of public interest also fall directly under his supervision. He is the President of some prestigious organizations, foremost among which is the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), which was established under the auspices of His Highness the Amir. However, despite his numerous official duties, His Highness the Amir is very conscious of the importance of his personal relations with his citizens, sharing with them their joys and sorrows.

The Crown Prince

The Crown Prince is the Heir Apparent to the Amir of the State of Kuwait. According to the Constitution of the State of Kuwait, "The Heir Apparent shall be designated within one year at the latest from the date of the accession of the Amir. His designation shall be affected by an Amiri Order upon the nomination of the Amir and the approval of the National Assembly, which shall be approved by a majority vote of its members in a special sitting."

Kuwait's current Crown Prince is HH Sheikh Saad Al-Abdallah Al-Sabah. Born in 1930, HH Sheikh Saad is the eldest son of the late Sheikh Abdallah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, former Amir of Kuwait. He was educated in Kuwait, and later joined the Handen Police College in England, where he attended specialised courses in police and security affairs till 1954.

As the Crown Prince HH Sheikh Saad Al-Abdallah also presides over the Supreme Defence Council, the Supreme Petroleum Council, the Civil Service Commission and the Higher Council of Housing.

The National Assembly

Democratic experience in Kuwait has become more mature, aware and open since the establishment of the parliament in 1963. On October 5, 1992 new elections were held to form the seventh group of representatives who would represent people in the National Council for the seventh legislation chapter. 304 nominators applied for these elections; 50 members were elected by secret direct ballot by 75 thousand voters.

Voting is excluded to Kuwaiti males who are 21 of age. The council nominators must be of Kuwaiti original nationality and not under 30 of age on the election day. Ministers, Justices, Prosecuting Attorneys, Chiefs of Voters register committees or their members may not nominate themselves unless they have already resigned from their jobs prior to election.

The ministers not elected in the National Council are considered members in it by their positions. Kuwait is divided into 25 electoral positions. Kuwait is divided into 25 electoral districts; each district elects two members to become representatives in the National Council.

The period of the legislation chapter is four years starting from the first session after elections to the last session before new elections. Regular annual session is no less than 8 months provided budget is sanctioned. The council sessions is only valid when more than half of the members are present. Decisions are taken by absolute majority of the present members.

The Parliamentary life

Kuwait has known consultation system as the basis of government since 1920 when the first state consultative council was formed in the Gulf and Arab peninsula in the reign of Ahmed Al Jaber. The council consisted of 21 appointed members; Hamad Al Saqer, one of Kuwait's known traders, was elected a chairman. Although the council was short-lived, it was a historical indicator of a serious attempt to create a democratic atmosphere.

Then came the municipal council which comprised 14 members, 10 elected by people and 4 appointed. This council issued all types of decisions and recommendations. In 1938 general elections were conducted and gave rise to the first elected legislative assembly which had 14 members and Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem, the heir apparent at that time - was elected a chairman.

Despite that the council did not stay long, it had impact on the Kuwaiti political life. After that a state consultative council was formed but in 19 June 1961, after liberation, new parliamentary life started by electing the members of the constituent assembly who enacted the state's constitution.

The Judiciary

The Judiciary in Kuwait is an independent body. The administration of justice is free and fair from the influence of any authority. The right of litigation is guaranteed to all citizens as per the procedures and manners prescribed by law.

The Constitution also stipulates the establishment of a Constitutional Court. This court decides disputes relating to the constitutionality of laws, law decrees and regulations, and election of MPs, or the validity of their membership. It also has the authority to interpret a constitutional article following a request by the National Assembly or the government. If the Constitutional Court decides that a law, a law decree or a regulation is unconstitutional it shall be considered null and void.

The Judiciary in Kuwait is organised under three distinct categories:

The Court of First Instance

This is the nucleus of Kuwait's legal system. It decides conflicts of personal, civil, commercial, and labour affairs as well as administrative cases. It also gives judgements on criminal cases, and significant civil and commercial cases.

The court of appeal

This department looks into appeals and rulings sent down from the Court of First Instance (except those appealed before the Court of First Instance in the way of urgent, penalised and non-penalised cases).

Supreme Court

This apex body looks into court appeals concerning commercial, labour and civil cases as well as cases related to personal affairs and crimes. It is also instrumental in establishing legal rules, and interpreting and applying the laws of the country. Its sentences are handed down by a five-member advisory committee.

The Amir acts as the final court of appeal in Kuwait.


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