Amendments to Bahrain’s constitution to be presented next week

April 27, 2012

Bahrain’s upper chamber has endorsed a series of amendments to the constitution that “will contribute to increasing popular participation and enhancing the role of parliament in making decisions and enacting laws.”

The amendments were approved by the lower chamber earlier this month and the upper chamber’s endorsement on Wednesday means that they will be referred to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa. His information affairs advisor, Nabeel Al Hamar, said that they would be presented next week.

Under the amendments, the parliament has the power to reject the four-year action plan presented by the government at the beginning of the legislative term. If the plan is not approved, the king either accepts the resignation of the government or dissolves the parliament. The government has to submit an annual budget, rather than a two-year budget while ministers will be grilled on the open floor, one amendment said.

Ten lawmakers can file a no-cooperation motion against the head of the government and two-thirds of the MPs have the right to take a vote of “no confidence” against the prime minister, prompting the king to appoint a new premier or to dissolve the parliament.

The Speaker of the lower chamber takes over as the chairman of the bicameral parliament, a role previously assumed by the chairman of the Shura Council, the upper chamber.

The new amendments stipulate that Shura Council members will be appointed by the King through new criteria. Naturalized Bahrainis cannot be members of the Shura Council if they have another nationality or have not held the Bahraini nationality for at least ten years.

To dissolve the parliament, the king consults with the Speaker of the lower chamber, the Chairman of the Shura Council and the Chairman of the Constitutional Court.

Laws endorsed by the parliament will be referred to the king within two weeks.

“The amendments to the constitution have been unanimously approved by the people of Bahrain in their national dialogue and by the two councils of the bicameral parliament are a quantum leap in our democratic experience, which emphasises the continuing process of reform and progress,” Al Hamar said.



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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