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MP Hamdan Al-Azmi files to grill two ministers over alleged violations

MP Hamdan Al-Azmi

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Opposition MP Hamdan Al-Azmi yesterday filed to grill the ministers of defense and commerce and industry over allegations that they committed a series of violations including admitting women in the army and a decision regarding residences for over 60 residents. The lawmaker accused Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah of disregarding Kuwait society traditions and admitting females in the Kuwaiti army, violating rules of promotion among officers and of committing financial irregularities that squandered millions of dinars. He accused Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Al-Salman of “terrorizing” the head of the Public Authority for Manpower for issuing a decision last year to ban the renewal of residencies of residents over 60 years old.

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he received the two grillings and will be listed on the agenda of the next session on November 8. But the grillings are not expected to be debated in the assembly based on speculation that the cabinet could resign. Under Kuwait law, resigned ministers cannot be grilled unless reappointed in the new cabinet.
MP Azmi said in his first grilling that the defense minister “shocked” the Kuwaiti people by issuing a decision last month to allow Kuwaiti women to join the army, ignoring advice not to go ahead “with plans to Westernize the Kuwaiti society by admitting women into the military service”.

He also accused the minister of violating rules for promotions among army officers by promoting officers who did not fulfil the required conditions and ignoring others who fulfilled the conditions. Azmi also accused the minister of committing financial irregularities that cost public funds several million dinars.

In the second grilling, MP Azmi accused the minister of commerce and industry, who is chairman of the Manpower Authority, of terrorizing senior officials of the state by referring the head of the manpower authority to investigation. The lawmaker said that last year, the head of the Public Authority for Manpower, after discussions with the board, issued a decision banning residents aged 60 and over and who held secondary certificates or lower, from renewing their residence permits. He said the decision was taken as part of government efforts to reduce the number of residents in the country and it was approved by the previous ministers.

The minister had decided to suspend the decision after it was declared unconstitutional by the government’s legal department. Azmi made no reference to this decision. The suspension of the decision was hailed by a majority of MPs, businessmen and Kuwaiti human rights bodies.

 

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