Lawmakers call for revoking Dashti citizenship, membership – Domestic help bill amendment approved

T: MP Adnan Abdulsamad speaks during a parliament session yesterday, as Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah (center) and Justice Minister Yaqoub Al-Sane look on. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

T: MP Adnan Abdulsamad speaks during a parliament session yesterday, as Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah (center) and Justice Minister Yaqoub Al-Sane look on. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The case of controversial MP Abdulhameed Dashti completely dominated the National Assembly’s session yesterday amid sectarian tensions and calls to revoke his citizenship and parliament membership.

The assembly overwhelmingly voted to reject a sick leave request from Dashti who is outside the country and later approved two requests by the public prosecution to lift his parliamentary immunity so he could be interrogated for allegedly insulting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both key members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Dashti replied on his Twitter account, describing what happened in the session as a “play” by pro-Saudi members and vowed he will respond to their accusations at a press conference.

The lawmaker however did not say where he is currently amid speculations he is either in Britain or Syria. Dashti is facing several warrants to arrest him issued by the public prosecutor to interrogate him on allegation he insulted GCC member states.

Some MPs defended Dashti, saying different viewpoints must be respected and all should be treated equally under the law. They called for applying the constitution and the law and not to politicize Dashti’s case.

Several MPs accused Dashti of being an Iranian ‘agent’, others claimed he was travelling in Iranian diplomatic cars in London and that he had met leader of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah even after the group was classified as terrorist by the GCC. Deputy speaker Mubarak Al-Khrainej called for an investigation into claims that Dashti travelled in Iranian diplomatic cars and the lawmaker’s ties with Iran and other countries.

The intense debate was triggered by a request by Dashti to consider his absence from the session as legal as his office claimed that the lawmaker was receiving medical treatment abroad. Dashti also abstained from the sessions on March 15 and 16.

But several MPs called on the speaker to reject Dashti’s request and to consider him absent without reason while others called for revoking his membership from the house. Others urged revoking his citizenship. Dashti left the country a few weeks ago after the government launched legal action against him for harshly criticizing Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the Saudi-led campaign on Yemen.

Despite objections from some lawmakers, the assembly voted 40 against five to reject Dashti’s letter which means he is considered absent without reason. The move means that the assembly can initiate action to strip Dashti of his membership in accordance with the constitution and the assembly charter which stipulate that MPs who fail to attend five sessions in a row without a reason can be stripped of their membership.

But the main debate took place when the assembly began discussing two requests from the public prosecution to lift Dashti immunity so he can be interrogated. In one of the two requests, Dashti will be interrogated in connection with a legal conviction in Bahrain on charges he supplied funds to families of activists detained in the kingdom.

MP Adnan Abdulsamad strongly criticized the attitude of other lawmakers in handling the case of Dashti, saying such moves “will not terrorize us … and we will not be frightened”. He called for applying the constitution and the law. MP Abdullah Mayouf said Dashti was not expressing a political viewpoint but was instigating strikes against Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and other Gulf states.

Domestic help
Meanwhile, Lawmakers also endorsed amending Law No 69/2015 regarding the establishment of a shareholding company to bring in domestic help from abroad and turned over the amended version to the government for final perusal. The amended version stipulates that the shareholding company should not get more than 10 percent in profits of the overall cost of bringing in foreign domestic help.
Moreover, this version also allocates about 10 percent of the company’s shares to each of Kuwait Investment Authority, The Public Institution for Social Security, Public Authority for Minors Affairs, Kuwait Airways Company, and 60 percent to Union Of Consumer Co-Operative Societies.

Grilling motion
In the meantime, MPs Ahmad Al-Qhudhaibi and Mubarak Al-Hurais yesterday filed a request to grill Commerce and Industry Ministry Yousef Al-Ali for alleged administrative violations. Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said the grilling has been listed on the agenda of April 12 session. The two lawmakers claimed that the minister violated the law in the distribution of industrial plots and failed to activate the fund for small and medium sized development enterprises (SMEs).

They said that the minister changed a ministerial decree to prevent withdrawal of a number of industrial plots despite clear violations by the owners and failure to respond to repeated warnings. They claimed that instead of withdrawing the state-owned plots from the violators, the minister changed the ministerial decree to clear the plots’ owners from any responsibility.

The two lawmakers also claimed that the minister failed to do enough to activate the fund for promoting and supporting the SMEs fund established to finance small and medium initiatives for citizens.


Yemeni parties
In other news, First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah expressed hope yesterday that Kuwait hosting of Yemeni peace talks will be fruitful, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported. He urged all Yemeni parties to adhere to all agreed upon initiatives, in order to reach a solution for the Yemeni crisis, the Foreign Minister added in his intervention during the regular National Assembly session.

He recalled the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) Initiative which prevents a bloody war in Yemen, noting that the Gulf initiative and its framework drove Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power and started a national dialogue among all Yemeni components.

He expressed happiness to represent Kuwait and the GCC in the celebration of the National Dialogue outcomes in Sana’a, noting that he is keen on continuing to implement the Gulf initiative. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah briefed the cabinet on the ongoing preparations for hosting the Yemeni talks, expressing hope that the negotiations would result in restoring security and stability to Yemen.

Diplomatic missions
Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled also indicated that Kuwait has a total of 104 diplomatic missions abroad out of 192 member countries in the United Nations (UN). He added during the session that there is a mutual understanding among GCC countries in the presentation of diplomatic missions. In case there is no diplomatic mission in a Gulf state, another GCC state carries out and takes charge of the interests of that country, he further indicated.

On whether there is interference from the diplomatic missions in the work of technical offices, the minister indicated that the Foreign Ministry is abiding by the Vienna convention on diplomatic intercourse which states that the embassy is in charge of the work of its affiliate health, cultural and military offices.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 29/03/2016