Kuwait political turmoil worsens


Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi announced after the grilling that the vote on the non-cooperation motion will take place on Dec 16. To pass, it requires a simple majority of elected members of the Assembly, which currently stands at 49. All the 16 Cabinet ministers have no right to vote on the motion.

If passed, it will be sent to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who will either decide to sack the prime minister and appoint another premier, or dissolve the National Assembly and call for fresh elections.

The MPs who signed the motion are: Ahmad Al-Saadoun, Musallam Al-Barrak, Khaled Al-Tahous, Saifi Al-Saifi, Ali Al-Deqbasi, Jamaan Al-Harbash, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Faisal Al-Mislem, Falah Al-Sawwagh and Mohammad Hayef. It was the first time in Kuwait’s 47 years of democracy that a prime minister has been grilled in the National Assembly.

Later, 10 lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against the interior minister following a grilling that lasted more than three-and-a-half hours. Speaker Khorafi said that motion would be discussed on Dec 17.

The cheque issue dominated the media hype that preceded the grilling, especially after a local blog published a copy of two cheques issued by the prime minister to two former MPs and showed their names. The first one was to former MP Nasser Al-Duwailah who categorically denied that the amount went into his account, saying that it went for a partner law firm in the United Arab Emirates against legal services for the prime minister’s private business.

The second cheque shown was for former MP Hussein Al-Quwaiaan who came to the National Assembly yesterday and told reporters that the cheque is fake and categorically denied that he had ever received any money for himself from the prime minister. Quwaiaan however admitted receiving aid on behalf of poor Kuwaiti families and the amounts have never been credited to his name or account. He was only a mediator, he stressed.

Parliamentary sources revealed that MP Faisal Al-Mislem who grilled the prime minister showed no further cheques during the debate which focused more on the alleged irregularities of his office’s spending.

Following the grilling, Prime Minister HH Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said in a written statement that he opted to discuss the grilling despite clear constitutional and legal violations. He said the grilling tackled spending of the prime minister’s office which has been referred to the public prosecution and accordingly should not be discussed until a decision is taken by the judicial authorities.

The premier said that the issue of the cheques is something that relates to his private financial dealings which should not be involved in any way in the grilling. Nevertheless, the prime minister expressed complete faith in the Kuwaiti democratic system and thanked MPs for political maturity and awareness they exhibited during the debate.

MP Mislem told reporters after the grilling that Kuwait witnessed a historical day that is unprecedented in the whole Arab world when the prime minister was questioned. He said he was pained by the fact that the debate was held behind closed doors but "Kuwait has recorded a democratic achievement".

Late yesterday, 29 MPs issued a joint statement in which they declared their total backing of the prime minister and said they are opposed to the non-cooperation motion. The figure means that the motion against the premier is doomed to fail since it requires at least 25 votes of the 49 elected MPs to pass.

After that the National Assembly began debating the grilling of Minister of Public Works and Municipality Fadhel Safar. The griller MP Mubarak Al-Waalan charged him over a number of administrative and financial allegations regarding illegal promotions of senior staff, wasting hundreds of millions of dinars of public funds and failure to pursue court cases of the Kuwait Municipality that cost public funds huge sums. He also charged him of promoting employees who were involved in corruption and referred to
investigation or to the public prosecution.

The minister categorically denied any wrongdoing, insisting that most of the alleged violations in the grilling were in fact committed before he was appointed minister. Safar also insisted that he had rectified a number of illegal decisions taken by some senior municipality employees and denied any wrongdoing in the breakdown of the Mishref sewage plant, adding that he has taken all necessary actions to launch proper probes into the case. The grilling ended without MPs filing a no-confidence motion.

The Assembly then moved to debate the grilling of Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah by MP Musallam Al-Barrak over allegations that he provided the Assembly with false information during an earlier grilling on June 23. During the grilling, the minister told the Assembly that he had referred a suspicious KD 5.3 million contract to the public prosecution on June 1. He however failed to inform the Assembly that the prosecution had already replied to him on June 7 saying it found no grounds to launch an investigation into the contract.

Barrak claimed that the minister deliberately hid the information because if he had announced it, that would have shown to MPs that his referral of the contract to the public prosecution was faulty and lacked any evidence. The minister categorically denied any wrongdoing and described Barrak’s second grilling since June as an attempt to dismiss him out of office because this was one of his election campaign promises.

The Assembly then began well after midnight the debate of the grilling of Defense Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah.


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