Controversial MP’s presence suspends Bahrain parliament session

December 3, 2011

A Bahraini member of parliament insisted on showing up at a recent meeting despite being suspended, causing other members to walk out in protest.

The walkout caused the weekly session to be cancelled, and the parliamentary bloc said Osama Muhannad did not heed their offer to compromise and leave.

Muhannad, a newly-elected lawmaker who was last week voted out of the lower chamber for the next 20 sessions, showed up on Tuesday and insisted on attending, saying that the suspension was not legal and that he had the right to his seat.

The decision to suspend him was based on an investigation by the legislative committee following a bitter verbal standoff the MP had with fellow maker Ganem Al Buainian during which he threatened to hurl a booklet he was holding at him.

The situation was compounded when the MP insulted fellow lawmaker Sawsan Al Taqawi, one of the four women in the 40-seat lower chamber.

Last week, 18 MPs voted to keep Osama out of the parliament for the next 20 sessions. An attempt to lower the sanction was defeated after Al Taqawi issued a strong emotional appeal to uphold her rights and dignity.

However, the voting process was apparently flawed after information surfaced that the decision had to be supported by more than half of the 40 MPs and not of those who were present at the session.

The Bahrain Bloc, which groups Al Taqwi and other newly elected lawmakers, said that it wanted clarifications on the issue. However, its request was not put on the lower chamber’s weekly session and Osama apparently took advantage of the loophole to consider the decision against him to be null and void and turned up at the session.

“We spoke to the lawmaker and offered him a better deal,” Ahmad Al Saati, one of Bahrain Bloc leaders, said. “He refused flatly, as he turned down other calls and pleas by MPs to go and allow the session to proceed. He simply refused, and our bloc as well as that of the Independents agreed to leave,” he said.

Speaker Khalifa Al Dhahrani waited for 30 minutes before he announced that the session would be adjourned.

“Walking out of the sessions is a real waste of time when we need it badly to move forward with the multitude of files we week to examine,” MP Hassan Al Dossari said. “There is a strong need to comply with the rules and regulations. We need solutions, but they have to be addressed in other ways. We should not allow them to affect the work of the parliament,” he said.

No MP has ever been suspended since the lower and upper chambers were launched as Bahrain’s bicameral parliament in 2002. Elections for the lower chambers have been held regularly every four years.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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