By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The new Cabinet members yesterday took the oath of office to become members of parliament, as three opposition lawmakers walked out of the session during the ceremony. MPs Adel Al-Damkhi, Mohammad Hayef and Mohammad Al-Mutair were protesting at the inclusion of Ghadeer Aseeri as minister of social affairs and labor, who had tweeted in support of anti-government protests in Bahrain and called on Gulf troops to pull out of the nation. The opposition MPs had threatened to grill Prime Minister HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah if he did not dismiss the minister, but they have done nothing so far.
The Assembly however made an unusually large number of decisions, including asking the Audit Bureau to investigate the multibillion-dollar deal to buy Eurofighter warplanes and other allegations of corruption. MPs also voted to ask the legal and legislative committee to speed up debating bills calling for a general amnesty for political prisoners and report back to the Assembly, setting Jan 7 as the date to debate the bill. But the government expressed reservations over the issue.
Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he believes the general amnesty or pardon should be requested and not imposed, adding that he hopes the issue will be voted on in the house. Opposition MPs hope to pass the legislation to exonerate a number of former opposition MPs and activists sentenced to heavy jail terms for storming the Assembly building in 2011. The men have been living abroad for close to 18 months.
MPs also agreed to debate today a deal to acquire French Caracal helicopters for one billion euros over alleged technical problems with the aircraft. The lawmakers however rejected a motion to form a committee to probe allegations of forgery in Kuwaiti citizenship, as the government abstained from the vote. Ghanem said he will continue to work on this important issue in order to find an appropriate solution.
The Assembly also agreed to form a three-MP committee to investigate the death in police custody of Ahmad Al-Dhafiri, a man with special needs, amid allegations of torture. New Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh has already ordered an investigation into the incident. He vowed he will take action against those proven guilty.
MPs formed a five-member committee to investigate allegations that appointments in oil companies violated Kuwaiti laws. The Assembly however rejected a draft law calling to amend the country’s electoral constituencies and the method of voting by raising to two the number of candidates a voter can select in general elections. MP Mohammad Al-Dallal claimed wide-scale corruption is taking place right now with some hopefuls moving voter registrations from one constituency to another to boost their chances of winning.
The Assembly also elected a number of temporary panels, including committees for the environment, human rights, housing, youth and sports and human resource development.