Opposition MPs meet ahead of information minister grilling

MPs want vote on amendment to charges law

Information and Youth Minister
Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah

KUWAIT: About 12 opposition MPs held a coordination meeting yesterday ahead of the debate of the grilling against Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah which is scheduled to take place today.
Although several other MPs could not attend because they were either outside the country or busy, the opposition bloc formed of 26 lawmakers is no longer a reality as their number has sharply dwindled.
Islamist MP Mohammad Hayef, who hosted the meeting at his assembly office, admitted in a statement to reporters that the number of the opposition bloc is far less than the 26 lawmakers who met immediately after the election. That should be good news for Sheikh Salman because even if his grillers manage to file a no-confidence motion, they will not have the support of the 25 lawmakers needed to vote him out of office.

Coordination committee
MP Majed Al-Mutairi, who attended the meeting, said that it was agreed to form a seven-member coordination committee that will coordinate meetings of the bloc. Mutairi said the meeting discussed the grilling and expected that it will lead to filing a no-confidence motion.
The three lawmakers who filed the grilling – Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Abdulwahab Al-Babtain and Al-Humaidi Al-Subaie – held a rehearsal for the grilling in the assembly chamber. Babtain warned against deleting any of the grilling issues and said that he was unaware if a no-confidence motion against the minister will be filed. He urged MPs to hear the debate first and them decide.

Based on the internal charter of the national assembly, the three MPs who filed the grilling will be given three hours to explain their views and present their reasons for questioning the minister. Then the minister will be given three hours to respond. The three lawmakers will then be given 15 minutes each to respond to the minister who will in turn be given around 30 minutes to respond a second time.

Three MPs supporting the grilling and three opposing it will then be allowed to speak alternately for 15 minutes each before the debate is finished with the minister’s final comments. If the opposition MPs decide to file a no-confidence motion, it has to be signed by 10 lawmakers. The vote on the motion will take place eight days later.
Twenty-five MPs must support the motion to succeed as cabinet ministers are not allowed to vote on such motions. If the motion gets the support of 25 MPs, the minister will be considered automatically dismissed. The grilling accuses the minister of failing to take the necessary measures to lift the international sanctions on Kuwaiti sports in addition to alleged financial and administrative violations.

Raising charges
MP Khalil Al-Saleh meanwhile said he sent a letter to the national assembly asking that voting on a draft law preventing the government from raising public charges and fuel prices without the prior approval of the assembly, should take place on February 14. Saleh said that he was one of several MPs who submitted the draft law which essentially wants to prevent the government from hiking petrol prices without a law to be passed by the national assembly.
The government hiked petrol prices in September for the first time in almost two decades. MPs could not stop the decision because the law allows the government to raise fuel prices without the prior approval of the assembly. Now the amendment wants to restrict the government hands.

Opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani meanwhile demanded that the assembly allocates one hour of the February 14 session to debate the issue of the so-called illegal bank deposit scandal in which a number of lawmakers are allegedly involved. Adasani wants the time in order to announce the names of MPs or former MPs implicated in a national assembly probe but the results of the investigation were never released.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 30/01/2017