Kuwait Government Hit by Another Crisis

Article Summary
There have been reports of a number of government ministers in Kuwait resigning following a crisis over accusations that ministers have been questioned because of personal grievances.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mustafa al-Shamali confirmed that “there is no cabinet reshuffle yet,” noting that “the government refuses any abuse in interrogations.” Meanwhile, National Assembly President Ali al-Rashed announced that he had been informed that the ministers submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak,” asserting that “no meeting of the National Assembly will be held today given that the government will not be attending.” For their part, the MPs have shown discontent over what they have described as “a governmental escape from confrontation.” Thus, the political developments went yesterday [May 14] in the direction of resolving the crisis of questionings by convening a closed meeting between the presidents of the two authorities, yesterday evening, arranged by the Religious Endowments and National Assembly Affairs Minister Sharidah Moasherji.

"It is clear that the reason behind the government's non-attendance of yesterday's parliamentary session is the resignations," Rashed said, explaining that he had been informed of the resignations of some ministers, but not that of the prime minister. He added that the government would not be attending today’s meeting [May 15], and that a special session may be held Thursday [May 16], pointing out that the government did not explain the reason behind its non-attendance, but confirmed the resignation of some ministers.

He added, “What is being said about the invocation of Article 601 is just rumors and I did not hear anything about it. The ministers are entitled to submit their resignations just like the MPs are entitled to activate their constitutional instruments. The government did not ask me to call on MPs to withdraw their interrogations.”

According to informed sources, the government “believes [that the cases where ministers have been questioned] are abusive and based on personal grievances, as the questioning of the oil minister is based on the Dow [Chemicals] fine, and there is a parliamentary investigative committee that is still looking into the matter. Thus, it is not appropriate to submit statements from questioning about a matter that is under investigation,” and he explained that “the government believes that the questioning of the minister of interior is based on personal motives and intentionally targets the minister.” The sources indicated that “the government does not want to boycott sessions and it should not be doing so, but MPs should not be targeting specific people and should seek cooperation between the two authorities.”

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The sources revealed that “the government tends to request the referral of the questioning of the minister of the interior to the parliamentary legislative committee because it includes unconstitutional aspects,” and pointed out that “the government will not face this unconstitutional questioning before being referred to the legislative committee to decide on it.”

Shamali said, “There is no cabinet reshuffle yet,” and noted that “the government refuses to abuse questioning” and that "the government is examining the two submitted questioning sessions of the ministers of interior and oil and will take the appropriate decision in this regard in accordance with the constitution and in the framework of its cooperation with the National Assembly in order to serve the public interest.”

At the level of the parliamentary reactions, MP Nasser al-Marri insisted that “the purpose of the questioning of Oil Minister Hani Hussein is to know the party behind the Dow loss, in order to hold them accountable and prevent this from happening in the future.” He continued, “We confirm that we are not targeting the minister personally, but we want to hold the abusers accountable.”

For his part, MP Yaacoub al-Saneh refused to withdraw his questioning of Hussein, stressing that it is a “well-earned interrogation and I will proceed with it.” He also stressed that “what the minister did in the case of the Dow is serious — we found a disaster that hit the public purse and the minister did not react to fight this disaster and prevent the waste of money.”

MP Saleh Ashour said, “The Kuwaiti people are surprised by the government's attitude toward the interrogations and its non-attendance of the National Assembly session today. A government that avoids confrontation is not a regrettable government.”

MP Faisal al-Kandari said that “the nation will not accept the policy of the scapegoat that was pursued by some of the previous governments, either through the resignation or dismissal of the minister,” pointing out that “the prosecution of those responsible for the crime will not stop until the perpetrators of the disaster that befell the public money of the Dow fine will be revealed.” He added that “we will neither tolerate circumvention or the dismissal of the competent ministers without holding all the responsible to account, and the Board will take every necessary action to discredit the thieves of public money who caused this crime.”

MP Saad al-Bous put the blame on the government for not attending the parliamentary session, and said it was responsible for the “delay in the adoption of important laws on its agenda, which were scheduled to be approved by the Board.” He said, “The government's non-attendance is unjustifiable, especially as the two questionings that were submitted, were not included in its agenda, but were incorporated into the agenda of the meeting of May 28. It should have attended the meeting and cooperated with the Assembly in the adoption of important laws”

He added, “The government conveyed a negative message in its failure to attend the meeting and betrayed the National Assembly and the citizens who were waiting for acknowledgments during this session, namely the early retirement of women, the rent allowance increase, housing loans, child allocation, the disbursement of exceptional pensions for retired military personnel and other laws that could not be discussed due to the government's absence from the session.” He called on the government to approve the submitted parliamentary request to discuss the fine levied on the Dow for two hours during this session, if it is serious about its intention to reveal the details of the topic before the people.

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