KUWAIT: Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan gestures during a National Assembly session yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan comfortably defeated a no-confidence vote in the Assembly during a special session yesterday. Only 11 MPs voted for the motion, which if passed would have dismissed the minister, while 37 MPs voted against it, renewing their confidence in Roudhan. Only the 49 elected members are allowed to vote on no-confidence motions, as Cabinet ministers are barred from doing so. One MP was absent.
Roudhan was grilled last week by MPs Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei and Mubarak Al-Hajraf over allegations of financial and administrative violations and failure to prevent a major real estate scam which affected hundreds of Kuwaitis, among others. The minister categorically denied the allegations and said the scam had begun before he became minister and that he initiated legal action after he assumed office. The two lawmakers insisted during the grilling and yesterday that the minister did not refute the allegations, while the minister’s supporters said he had started key reforms and should be encouraged.

In another development, head of the Assembly’s foreign relations committee MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said the committee has summoned Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah to question him over a Syrian businessman who was briefly detained two weeks ago over alleged money laundering accusations. The government had made no statement over the detention of Mazen Al-Tarazi, reportedly close to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, but Jarallah said late on Tuesday that Kuwait received some communications from the Syrian government and decided to free Tarazi.

Also, a group of lawmakers handed the foreign minister a letter objecting to allowing embassies and consulates to have premises in residential areas. The move came amid reports that the government will next week decide to provide land plots to embassies with large communities in the country.

By B Izzak