Information Affairs Authority, Manama, 23 August 2012: His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa amended the laws and legal provisions governing the Shura and Representatives councils; and the authority and mandate of the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission. The decree came as a result of the constitutional amendments reflecting the points of consensus reached in the National Dialogue held in July of last year and brings them into effect in domestic law.
The amendments give the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission the mandate and authority to amend the constitution with proposals referred by the Shura and Representatives councils. The Commission must submit each proposal to the government within three months of drafting it, in order to be studied by the government and debated in Parliament. The expanded powers of Parliament make it easier to bring forward proposals to further amend the Constitution.
Moreover, the Elected Chamber has been granted greater legislative and monitoring powers. Ministers are now required to answer to MPs, who will be able to question them during full parliamentary sessions rather than only in committees. All new ministerial appointments must be approved by the democratically elected Parliament, who can vote to reject the entire government based on their power to reject the government’s four-year plan. This is in addition to their previously granted right to register a vote of “no confidence” with regard to any minister. These reforms guarantee that the government’s composition and work plan will reflect the will of the people.
The Elected chamber has presidency over the appointed chamber: responsibility for presiding over the National Assembly was transferred from the chair of the Shura Council to the chairman of the Parliament. This adds more weight to the elected chamber’s voice by giving the elected chamber the deciding vote in any dispute.
The responsibility for presiding over the National Assembly was transferred from the chair of the Shura Council to the chairman of the elected chamber. This adds more weight to the elected chamber’s voice by giving them the deciding vote in any dispute.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark the ratification of the constitutional amendments, His Majesty emphasized his desire to see reform continue: “Evolution is a law of life and what we hope for at this important stage is for all various forces and national gatherings to take the initiative to evaluate their work and catch up with the development and reform”.