Bahrain King ratifies amendments to the constitution

May 4, 2012

Bahrain looks forward to a greater role by the parliament in overseeing the performance of the government, King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa said as he received the amendments to the constitution endorsed by the parliament.

“We look forward, through these amendments to the constitution and through the participation of the legislative branch, to the consolidation of overseeing the government’s performance and to the continuous support of this role to fulfill the aspirations and hopes of the people,” King Hamad said at the ceremony on Thursday afternoon.

The amendments will support development plans and will open up channels of communication with the people to listen to their views and take them into consideration in order to offer them a life of dignity and achievements, the king said.

“The reforms we have undertaken since we started our rule will not end because development is a way of life. We hope that all national forces and societies will take the initiative to engage in self-evaluation and join the development and reform process,” said King Hamad who succeeded his father, Shaikh Eisa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, in March 1999.

The amendments, the first to the constitution since it was promulgated in 2002, were initiated by around 300 people who met last July to discuss the future of Bahrain following the worst divisions to hit the society in modern times.

The national dialogue brought together representatives from trade unions, women’s societies, the media, the government, the parliament and civil society who eventually agreed on around 300 recommendations that were submitted to the parliament for discussions.

However, some opposition groups boycotted the dialogue and shunned the debate on the amendments, some of which were key demands by those who had called for a more advanced constitution.

Under the amendments, the lower chamber, elected every four years, has more powers than the appointed upper chamber of the bicameral parliament.

The lower chamber has the right to reject the government or its action plan and can file a motion of no-cooperation.

The Speaker of the lower chamber has the priority over the chairman of the Shura Council in general meetings and in submitting drafts to the government. The members of the Shura Council will be appointed according to clear criteria.

The king can dissolve the parliament, but after consultations with the Speaker, the Shura Council chairman and the president of the Constitutional Court.



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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