Roses make MPs see red as clashes mar session

Govt wants closed debates on Khor Abdullah, deposits scandal

KUWAIT: Liberal MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl distributes red roses to mark Valentine’s Day at the National Assembly before the parliamentary session yesterday. (Inset) MP Safaa Al-Hashem holds a rose. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The National Assembly’s regular session yesterday witnessed a number of arguments which took up most of the Assembly’s time, preventing it from debating the sensitive issues of Khor Abdullah and the bank deposits scandal. MPs rejected a motion to extend the session beyond the normal finish time at 1400 hours, and as a result, most of the issues were moved for today.

During the session, MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl clashed several times with opposition MPs over two requests from the public prosecution to lift his immunity to be tried in two cases. He was involved in a heated argument with MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash and Mohammad Hayef and others for calling to close down a religious center in Salmiya for allegedly sowing discord and sectarian strife.

Fadhl, the son of former MP Nabil Al-Fadhl, who died during an Assembly session about two years ago, infuriated Islamist and conservative lawmakers by bringing red roses as a symbolic gesture on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. He placed one rose on the desks of all members and Cabinet ministers, besides the speaker and Assembly secretary general. But the roses were quickly removed by Assembly officials.

KUWAIT: (Top) MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl instructs a worker to place a red rose on a fellow lawmaker’s desk before yesterday’s National Assembly session. (Above) a worker removes the roses based on orders from assembly officials. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Fadhl protested at the removal, saying he bought the 73 roses for KD 73 and that they should not have been removed. Hayef criticized marking Valentine’s Day because it is “an atheist practice that is totally prohibited under religion”. He said that the committee for alien negative practices, which he heads, should study the issue. The Assembly then overwhelmingly agreed to lift Fadhl’s immunity. It also voted to lift the immunity of opposition MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Harbash and Mohammad Al-Mutair to be tried for taking part in the storming of the National Assembly building in Nov 2011.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Faleh Al-Azab said the government is open to hold a special debate on the Khor Abdullah waterway with Iraq following protests on the Iraqi side against a 2012 agreement between Kuwait and Iraq. Although a string of Iraqi official statements have assured Kuwait that the agreement is not affected by the opposition, lawmakers in Kuwait want to hear a government briefing on the issue. Azab however said he believes the government will demand the debate to be held behind closed doors.

MPs also could not push ahead with a request to debate the banking deposits scandal in which 13 former and present MPs are accused of accepting millions of dinars in bribes from the government for political reasons. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani and several other lawmakers filed a motion calling to allocate some time to debate the scandal, which was investigated by the public prosecution in 2011, but did not press charges for lack of legislation.

Adasani wants to reveal the names of the lawmakers who benefited from the bribes and the amounts they got in a public debate in the Assembly, but the government is insisting on a closed debate. The lawmaker however threatened that if the debate is either rejected or held in secret, he has other measures that he will use, but did not elaborate.

Adasani was a member of a parliamentary investigation committee that probed the issue under the opposition-dominated Assembly elected in Feb 2012. The results of the probe could not be used because that Assembly was scrapped by the constitutional court within just four months after being elected. Another probe committee was formed by the 2013 Assembly, but its findings have remained confidential. At least five MPs in the current Assembly are involved in the scandal.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 15/02/2017