Amir rejects ‘death’ for blasphemy - ‘Awqaf’ resignation rejected

KUWAIT CITY, June 6: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has rejected the law which sought the death penalty for those who insult God Almighty, the Holy Quran, his prophets and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and his wives, parliament sources informed the Arab Times on Wednesday.

The Cabinet officially forwarded the National Assembly a decree in that regard, they added. The law had been approved by lawmakers and state ministers at the parliament in two deliberations, following which Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Jamal Al-Shehab had assured the government will implement the law and will not reject it.

Furthermore, HH the Amir rejected the resignation of Al-Shehab on Wednesday. Al-Shehab said he was honored to meet with Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to discuss the matter and “while understanding the reasons for submitting my resignation, HH the Amir rejected it and ordered me to continue to serve the nation, preserving the rights of the people and serving the religion in a moderate manner,” he stated.

Speaking to KUNA, Al-Shehab added “that he can only accept and appreciate HH the Amir’s trust in him, pledging sincerity and fidelity to the government headed by HH the Prime Minister “.

The blasphemy bill was passed by the Assembly in May. However, the Assembly can in the future re-approve the law with a two-thirds majority. In this way it can over-ride the rejection of the Amir.

Islamist MP and head of the Islamist Justice (Al-Adala) Bloc strongly opposed the move and said that the Cabinet should resign or implement the law since it was unanimously approved. Moreover, there are unconfirmed reports that the Cabinet will also return an approved law regarding small to medium sized businesses. MP Obaid Al-Wassmi had also hinted his intention to grill HH the Prime Minister if approved laws are scrapped.

Similarly, Minister of Information Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah refused to elaborate on reports that the government is studying a Cabinet reshuffle. “There are many rumors circulating. Is it a duty to respond to every rumor?” he stated to KUNA.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly approved on Wednesday the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Lt. General Ahmed Abdul-Latif Al-Rujeib’s request to postpone both interpellations against him to June 20. Out of a quorum of 53 MPs, 32 agreed to postpone the grillings of MPs Saifi Al-Saifi and Riyadh Al-Adsani, including members of the Majority Bloc, while 19 MP rejected the request and two abstained.
Al-Rujeib stressed that he will take the podium and face his grillings as per the Assembly’s internal regulations. While MP Riyadh Al-Adsani hinted on the interpellation of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah if Al-Rujeib resigns following Al-Saifi’s grilling.

Moreover, the Assembly approved 10 unbinding recommendations pertaining to the interpellation of former Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shammali that was filed by MPs Abdulrahman Al-Anjari, Musallam Al-Barrak and Khaled Tahous. Lawmakers recommended the reformation of the board of directors of the Public Institute for Social Security (PASS) within three months and the re-evaluation of all its internal and external decision in light the suspected violations committed that were mentioned in the interpellation.
The MPs proposed to suspend all officials suspected of violations and continue the suspension of the general director of PASS; that the Central Blank and the Cabinet launch investigations into all the suspected violations mentioned in the grilling so that that former Finance Minister can be referred to the Court of Ministers.

The recommendations further demanded the halt of all procedures pertaining to Al-Zour power station and that the Cabinet investigates irregularities in its implementation and amends the guidelines law pertaining to the establishment of Kuwaiti companies to construct and manage power and water stations.

Minister of Electricity & Water and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Latif Al-Ibrahim strongly criticized the recommendation to halt the construction of Al-Zour Station. He warned that the halt will delay the first phase of the project and subsequently lead to the potential loss of 4,800 megawatt output in power, particularly in residential areas as power annual consumption has increased by six to eight percent.

Al-Ibrahim said that the ministry had completed procedures for floating the tender and Al-Zour station should begin operations in 2013 after all procedure specifications were approved by the development initiatives authority after the project was initially halted in 2010.

The Al-Zour Station project is opposed by a number of parliament lawmakers especially Speaker of Parliament Ahmad Al-Saadoun. Parliament sources, however, said that Al-Ibrahim has informed that the project will be implemented regardless of parliament objections.

The Assembly approved the lawmakers’ recommendations with the vote of 39 MPs, while it refused to discuss other recommendations submitted on the same issue.  

Acting Finance Minister and Minister of Education Nayef Al-Hajraf said that a Fatwa and Legislation team had been formed to review all the issues raised in the grilling of Mustafa Al-Shammali and the recommendations and that the ministry will implement the necessary reforms. He said a final report in that regard will be given to the Assembly within three months.

Meanwhile, the Assembly approved recommendations by the Housing Affairs Committee on the issue of housing installations for citizens, which includes a proposal to grant a KD 70,000 loan from the Credits and Savings Banks to those affected by the housing problems to rebuild their homes.

Furthermore, heated arguments took place between majority MPs, primarily Musallam Al-Barrak, and Deputy Speaker MP Khaled Al-Sultan during the session on Wednesday when the latter refused to allow State Minister for Housing Affairs Shuaib Al-Muwaizri to explain the reasons for the suspension of the General Manager of the Credit and Savings Bank Salah Al-Mudhaf. The minister requested an hour to defend his decision.

Al-Muwaizri, nevertheless, was allowed to speak and explained, while displaying correspondences between him and bank director, that Al-Mudhaf refused to respond to his requests for information on the bank’s investments amidst suspicion of violations. “Al-Mudhaf invested KD 8 million of the bank’s funds on unsecured bonds contrary to the bank’s regulations,” he stated.

However, arguments resumed between Al-Barrak and the presiding speaker MP Faisal Al-Yahya on allowing Al-Muwaizri to continue his explanations and the session was adjourned to Thursday.
On another note, parliament sources informed that the parliament delegation formed to visit Guantanamo Bay Kuwaiti prisoners Fayez Al-Kandari and Fawzi Al-Odah are facing problems in getting permission to visit the prison.  The parliament delegation comprises of Islamist MPs Adel Al-Damkhi, Mohammed Hayef and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei.

By: Nihal Sharaf and Ben Arfaj Al-Mutairi

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