Aseeri denies quitting, but pressure mounts

Ghadeer Aseeri

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Ghadeer Aseeri yesterday denied that she has resigned or even plans to quit as she faces a no-confidence vote next week amid mounting pressure. Aseeri, a newcomer to the Cabinet, was grilled last week over allegations she violated the constitution and undermined the status of lawmakers and their constituents, and 10 lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against her.

For the motion to pass, the votes of 25 MPs are needed and it appears that the number has already been secured with several lawmakers initially thought to be backing the minister, or at least staying neutral, turning their backs on her. If 25 MPs vote against the minister, she will be dismissed automatically, something that has never happened in Kuwait before because ministers who faced the threat of losing no-confidence motions opted to resign before the vote.

MP Abdullah Al-Roumi was the latest lawmaker to join the anti-minister camp yesterday, charging that Aseeri has taken a number of ill-advised decisions in the past few days aimed at boosting her chances of survival. He joined several MPs who were thought to be against the motion but changed their mind after Aseeri stripped a senior ministry official responsible for people of special needs Shafiqa Al-Awadhi of most of her powers.

The decision was strongly criticized by a number of lawmakers, who said they will support the no-confidence motion. Other MPs accused the minister of making illegal appointments at cooperative societies to appease some MPs and guarantee that they vote for her. According to parliamentary sources and based on lawmakers who have announced their position, more than 25 MPs are highly expected to vote against the minister.

Sources explained that initially, it seemed that the minister would survive the motion. “However, events accelerated and liberals shockingly joined those in favor of the motion although the minister herself is liberal,” the sources said. “Both liberals and the government are ready to sacrifice Aseeri, as even if she stays in office, she might fall any time in view of the great parliamentary opposition to her appointment,” the sources explained, expecting the minister to resign at any moment.

Although the minister has insisted she will not resign, if the number of opponents is definitively confirmed, she will most likely resign and not face the no-confidence motion. If she resigns, Aseeri will join a handful of ministers whose tenure in the Cabinet was extremely short-lived. The sources added the premier might give the replacement of Aseeri the additional portfolio of ministry of state for economic affairs.

Meanwhile, Commerce and Industry Minister Khaled Al-Roudhan yesterday discussed with the Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee a new draft law on bankruptcy. The minister said the new law is modern and advanced, adding that bankrupt people are not criminals and that the law will protect the interests of both debtors and creditors. Head of the committee MP Safa Al-Hashem said that approving the law will make Kuwait among the most advanced countries, adding that the legislation will change the structure of bankruptcy.