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MP threatens to quit amid clashes, ‘insult’ – Oil minister says he met with KPC chief, downplays rift

KUWAIT: Shiite MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan yesterday said he will resign from the National Assembly after a sectarian insult by fellow Sunni MP Hamdan Al-Azemi which was followed by yet another clash between lawmakers. Duwaisan said he will submit his resignation from the Assembly today unless Azemi makes a public apology for the insult he made during a heated debate over the National Assembly satellite channel.

The Shiite lawmaker said that Azemi insulted his beliefs when he said “you should rectify your sect” during the heated exchanges. That prompted other Shiite MPs to react angrily against the remarks and with some of them insulting him.

After the end of the session, Shiite MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi clashed with Azemi - both using the Uqal (head robe). They were later separated by other lawmakers. This is the second time that MPs clash physically in the National Assembly. Two weeks ago, MP Abdulhameed Dashti exchanged fists with MP Hamad Al-Harashani.

The problem was sorted out by the Assembly Bureau. The incident began when MP Azemi strongly criticized the satellite channel of the National Assembly and claimed it received KD7 million funding from the Information Ministry and the Assembly. At this point, a number of MPs and Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem rejected the accusations. One of those who strongly lashed out at Azemi was Duwaisan who praised the channel and said Azemi was himself interviewed several times on the channel. That angered Azemi and both exchanged strong words that led to the sectarian remark.

During the debate, Azemi and other Shiite MPs almost clashed but were prevented by other lawmakers. The heated exchange came as the National Assembly was holding its first session in the holy fasting month of Ramadan and was just a week from going into summer recess. The Assembly debated and approved the 2015/2016 budgets of 11 establishments and agencies including Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC), Kuwait Port Authority and others.

As a result of the heated exchanges, the National Assembly could not debate and pass three key legislation on maids rights and the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights. During the session, MPs raised the issue of the reported disputes within the oil sector and said that the disputes endangered the country's resources.

Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair, however denied a report in MEED magazine that he was not meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of KPC Nizar Al-Adansani as a result of the dispute, saying that he only met Adasani on Monday. MP Jamal Al-Omar said that 29 MPs have submitted a motion to debate the affairs in the oil sector and called on the speaker to set a time for the debate. Omar said the disputes were damaging the oil sector, the only source of income for the country and called for action.
The minister said that expanding the board of directors of KPC is not being done for the first time and he said that he came to the oil sector to work - and insisted that he did not bring the disputes to the oil sector which has witnessed many rifts in the past. In the meantime, the new KPC board of directors held its first meeting yesterday and approved the financial statements for the oil companies for the fiscal year which ended on March 31, according to an official statement. The Oil Minister appointed nine new members to the board's seven members with reports saying that he wanted to consolidate his position in KPC and the oil sector.

By staff reporter

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This article was published on 23/06/2015