MP says debt gathering a message to government

KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem yesterday strongly defended Kuwait’s position on the Palestinian issue and lashed out at statements by some opposition groups that strongly criticized the government on this issue. Ghanem was commenting on reactions by MPs, activists and political groups that strongly criticized the presence of deputy foreign minister Khaled Al-Jarallah in a group picture in which the Israeli prime minister was present at a Warsaw conference last week.

The speaker said that he personally wishes not to see any Arab or Muslim official being pictured with the Israeli premier. He said that the picture does not take away anything from Kuwait’s relentless and unwavering support for the Palestinian cause and reiterated what HH the Amir has always said – that Kuwait will be the last Arab country to normalize ties with Israel.

But Ghanem strongly blasted certain groups “that no longer have any popular following” and which have strongly criticized Jarallah’s action and the government’s position. He said that such groups have no right to comment on the Kuwaiti position in this unacceptable way. The speaker also said that the assembly foreign relations committee – in coordination with him – will invite Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah for a debate on this issue next week.

In another development, MP Thamer Al-Sumait said yesterday that a gathering held on Saturday by hundreds of Kuwaiti citizens calling to write off their debts is a clear message to the government. The lawmaker said that the gathering also reflects the sufferings of more than 429,000 Kuwaiti debtors and the need to forgive their loans. He urged all MPs to support a move to force the government to forgive the loans. He said that the living conditions of Kuwaiti citizens must occupy the top of priorities of lawmakers and that the government must carefully understand the message of the Kuwaiti people.

Hundreds of citizens gathered outside the National Assembly on Saturday to demand that the Assembly should press the government to scrap all bank loans of Kuwaiti citizens. A large number of lawmakers have said they will support such a move when it comes up for debate in the Assembly, while the government insists it will not scrap the loans.

Meanwhile, head of the central government agency for stateless people or bedoons Saleh Al-Fadhalah yesterday received a delegation from Human Rights Watch to discuss the issue of bedoons. Fadhalah said the agency’s doors are wide open for human rights organizations regarding the situation of stateless residents.

By B Izzak