By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The new Cabinet is due to take oath in the National Assembly today amid a controversy over the inclusion of Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Ghadeer Aseeri, who is accused of tweeting in support of anti-government protests in Bahrain. Islamist opposition MPs have threatened to grill new Prime Minister HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah if he does not dismiss Aseeri before the oath session, but nothing has happened yet and the minister denied she has resigned.
Aseeri, a liberal Shiite academic, allegedly posted tweets in 2011 backing the anti-government protests in neighboring Bahrain and for calling on Gulf troops, sent to back the government, to withdraw. Opposition MPs insist that the minister should not have been included in the Cabinet over her views, which contradict government policies.
Opposition Islamist MP Mohammad Al-Mutair, who openly threatened to grill the premier over Aseeri, yesterday placed another condition for cooperation with the government. He called on the government not to stand in the way of approving a draft law providing a general amnesty to opposition former MPs and activists who were sentenced to years in prison for storming the National Assembly building in 2011.
A group of lawmakers are also planning to file a motion to investigate an arms deal to purchase around two dozen Caracal helicopters signed with France a few years ago. MPs have been pressing to investigate a number of key arms deals, including the multibillion-dollar Eurofighter jet deal. Allegations of corruption in the ministry of defense were one of the reasons for the resignation of the former government.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he has received a request signed by 10 MPs to hold a special session on Jan 9 to debate what MPs call traffic chaos following the death of a Kuwaiti citizen riding a bicycle on Sheikh Jaber Causeway. Minister of Finance Mariam Al-Aqeel said yesterday that a report on the demographic structure was sent to the Council of Ministers and its positive results will be announced after its approval.
The minister described the results in the reports as excellent that were achieved as a result of decisions and regulations by the interior ministry to amend the demographic structure and others by the foreign ministry to bar maids from certain nationalities. She said that the decisions to increase the percentage of Kuwaitis in the private sector will be applied shortly, adding that the private sector is not opposed to these decisions and companies which want to employ other nationalities should pay the specified fees.