Saleh’s interpellation ends quickly – 10 MPs file no-confidence motion against Jabri

KUWAIT: As the National Assembly was in the middle of a marathon session grilling two ministers over alleged violations, opposition MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari field a new grilling against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah for allegedly failing to implement development programs. The first grilling against Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh ended quickly, but in the second grilling, 10 MPs filed a no-confidence motion against Information Minister Mohammad Al-Jabri.

Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem told reporters the premier’s grilling will be listed on the agenda of the next session. The Assembly decided to debate the grilling of the two ministers and approve two laws till late at night yesterday and cancel the session today. Kandari charged the prime minister has failed to perform his job as the head of the Council of Ministers, which is responsible for drawing and implementing public policies and development plans.

The lawmaker also insisted that the prime minister is responsible for the failure of the government to implement key policies on correcting the demographic structure, which resulted in expatriates reaching 3.36 million against just 1.4 million citizens. During the session yesterday, MP Safa Al-Hashem said Kuwaitis have been victim of rising crimes carried out by expatriates, including prostitution and drugs. She called for actions by the government to force expatriate single males out of mostly-family residential areas.

In the grilling, Kandari also charged that the prime minister is responsible for the Council of Ministers conceding parts of its responsibilities like allowing the Amiri Diwan to carry out key projects that are the work of the government. Kandari charged that the Council of Ministers under HH Sheikh Jaber had failed to implement the necessary policies to cut spending and also failed to safeguard national unity and identity with regards to the controversial issue of using illegal methods to get Kuwaiti citizenship.

He said the government failed to adopt the right fiscal policy to cut spending to face the growing budget deficit following the crash in oil prices in 2014 and instead resorted to the pocket of the citizens by increasing the cost and prices of some services and commodities. He charged that the government of the prime minister has failed to resolve unemployment among Kuwaiti citizens, and contrary to what was promised, the government continued to appoint expatriates in public sector jobs, depriving Kuwaitis.

The first grilling against Saleh ended without any no-confidence motion as only five MPs signed the motion, five short of the required number. The grilling did not even find lawmakers to speak for and against it, forcing the speaker to end the debate without any further action. Islamist MPs Mohammad Hayef and Mohammad Al-Mutair, the grillers, accused the minister of violating the law and being unfair in the appointment of hundreds of Kuwaitis at the government’s legal department, which he supervises.

They also accused him of misusing his powers and squandering public funds in his ministry and in departments under his supervision. Saleh categorically denied the allegations and said that the law was applied to some 400 applicants for the legal and fatwa department and stressed there were no irregularities. It is very rare in Kuwait’s parliamentary history that no MPs stepped forward to speak for or against in a grilling.

Following the session, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable to Saleh congratulating him on the renewed confidence in parliament. In the cable, the Amir commended the minister’s efficient performance while replying to parliamentary queries, along with the elevated democratic practice which reflected the civilized image of the dear homeland. HH the Amir wished everybody success in serving the dear nation.

In the second grilling, MPs Riyadh Al-Adasani, Adel Al-Damkhi and Mohammad Al-Dallal bombarded the information minister with several accusations of mainly misusing his powers in the appointments and in distributing state-owned plots of land for agricultural use. The lawmakers said the minister exploited his position to appoint scores of employees without following the legal procedures. The MPs also charged that the minister did not resolve violations and problems at the agricultural authorities but rather he created new ones of his own.

The minister strongly denied the accusations and said that the violations the grillers are talking about were committed before he took over as minister. He vowed he would step down if the allegations were proved. At the end of the debate, 10 lawmakers -Damkhi, Yousef Al-Fadhalah, Safa Al-Hashem, Adasani, Abdulwahab Al-Babtain, Kandari, Abdullah Al-Kandari, Bader Al-Mulla, Rakan Al-Nasef and Osama Al-Shaheen – filed a no-confidence motion. The voting on the motion should take place after eight days, and if approved by the Assembly, it will mean an automatic dismissal of the minister.

By B Izzak