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MPs to vote on two motions of no-confidence

KUWAIT: The National Assembly holds a special session today to vote on two no-confidence motions against Oil Minister Bakheet Al-Rasheedi and Social Affairs and Labor Minister Hind Al-Sabeeh, which were filed last week following marathon grillings. The two ministers were accused in the grillings of various administrative and financial violations and for squandering public funds, besides misusing their powers. The oil minister in particular was charged of squandering hundreds of millions of dinars by delaying major projects or allowing top oil executives to make ill-advised investment decisions.

The motions require 25 votes in the 50-member Assembly to pass. Cabinet ministers are banned from voting on such motions, and only elected MPs can take part. If the motions are passed, the ministers will be dismissed immediately, something that had not happened in Kuwait’s democratic life, which began in 1962. But all indications show that the two ministers are highly expected to survive the voting and stay in office. Rasheedi said he is confident about the proceedings and reiterated that grillings are the constitutional right of lawmakers.

Besides the no-confidence motions, the Assembly is due to vote on forming an investigation committee to probe allegations made by the grillers against the oil minister. Assembly speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said yesterday that voting to form the committee does not cancel the no-confidence motion, which will take place according to procedures. Ahead of the two votes, which will take place separately, two lawmakers supporting the grilling and two opposing it will speak, and the minister will be allowed to defend himself.

Islamist MP Osama Al-Shaheen said yesterday that he will not support the no-confidence motion against Sabeeh, adding that he believes the grilling involved conflict of interests. The main issue in the grilling was the minister’s decision to shut a Shiite charity society headed by MP Saleh Ashour, who grilled the minister. On Tuesday, Ashour challenged the minister to prove her allegations that the society took a KD 100,000 loan.

In another development, head of the Assembly’s foreign relations committee MP Hamad Al-Harashani said yesterday that the panel will meet today to discuss the latest domestic and regional developments. He did not say who will attend the meeting from the government. Harshani called on the Assembly, the government and the people of Kuwait to shoulder their responsibility amid fast-paced and dangerous developments in the region. He urged lawmakers to stay away from “manipulated” grillings that destabilize the country. He claimed that the aims of the latest grillings are to make electoral and personal gains at the expense of national interests.

By B Izzak

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