Former speaker skips meeting with emir Controversy over Al Sa’adoun’s departure from Kuwait ahead of consultative meeting with emir (Gulf News, 05/12/2012)

Manama: Kuwait’s former parliament speaker Ahmad Al Sa’adoun has come under intense media scrutiny after he failed to turn up to a scheduled meeting with the Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.
The meeting between the country’s leader and the former speaker was part of the consultation talks over the choice of the next prime minister.
Al Sa’adoun is part of the opposition that boycotted the December 1 elections in protest of a controversial decree by the emir that was believed by the opposition to be designed to manipulate election results in the government’s favour.
The Emir traditionally appoints the prime minister following talks with former parliament speakers and former prime ministers.
However, Shaikh Sabah on Tuesday met separately with former parliament Speaker Jasem Al Khorafi and former Prime Minister Shaikh Nasser Al Mohammad.
The meeting with Al Sa’adoun was cancelled after the former speaker failed to show up despite several attempts by the Emiri Court to contact him.
Several media outlets linked the no-show to Al Sa’adoun’s opposition to the decree, which reduced the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one. The government has strongly rejected charges of manipulation and insisted that the amendment would bring the country with international elections standards based on the “one voter, one vote” principle.
On Wednesday, several Kuwaiti newspapers criticised Al Sa’adoun for not showing up for the meeting with the Emir, insisting that he was breaking with a long-standing tradition of consultations ahead of the formal appointment of the government head.
“It seems that Al Sa’adoun preferred to run away from the meeting,” Al Seyasah said. “The opposition was reportedly divided over the issue. There were those who supported attending the meeting to convey their position and there were those who wanted a boycott all the way. It is obvious that the opposition and particularly Al Sa’adoun have failed to appreciate that whoever refuses to take part in the consultations will not be contacted for such talks in the future,” it said.
According to Al Qabas, the Emiri Court called Al Sa’adoun several times on his mobile, but did not receive any answer.
Court officials later called his son and his personal secretary, but neither could confirm the former speaker’s whereabouts, the daily said.
They eventually contacted the border police who confirmed that Al Sa’adoun and his family drove out of Kuwait into Saudi Arabia at around 8am.
Al Rai said that Al Sa’adoun, a keen follower of constitutional procedures, should have been aware that the emir would consult with him over the appointment and should have scheduled to leave Kuwait after the meeting.
However, Al Sa’adoun, harshly criticised on social media for driving away from the scheduled meeting, denied that he wanted to boycott the consultations.
“These allegations are not true and I happen to be currently abroad, not in the country,” he posted on Twitter.
The tweet was blasted by Al Shahed, a daily that has often targeted the former speaker, and had an eight column front page editorial about “Al Sa’adoun’s flight” on Wednesday.
“Al Sa’adoun was scheduled to meet the Emir at 10am, but he drove out of the country at 8.15am without informing the court,” the daily said. “Did he run away to Saudi Arabia to avoid facing the Emir and to evade the criticism for his role in the riots? Or was he sure that Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak would remain as prime minister and that therefore there was no need to go to the consultation talks? It seems that he was trying to hold the stick from the middle,” the editorial said.

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