Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah speaks during a Parliament session
Bid to curb knives ... flow of foreign workers ASSEMBLY HOLDS SECRET SESSION ON SECURITY ISSUES

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 10: The National Assembly held a special closed-door session with Minister of Interior, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah Thursday to discuss the security issues facing the country.
The six-hour session witnessed mixed reactions from the MPs with some criticizing the Minister of Interior while others saying they are satisfied and optimistic about the future. Those unsatisfied have shown a desire to grill the minister.

The special session came following a request by several MPs to discuss government policies and measures adopted to prevent lawlessness which, they believe, have increased in recent days.
The Parliament has submitted recommendations to the government and agreed to hold another special session in April to review certain issues. One of the recommendations call upon the government to establish a specialized scientific security center while another calls for improving the security apparatus and increasing the efficiency of the securitymen through regular consultations with world-renowned security experts.

The recommendations also include the adoption of new laws to fight crime and delinquency with rehabilitation and awareness programs and close monitoring of delinquent youth.

The lawmakers have advised the government to fast-track the adoption of a bill to punish possession of sharp objects. They said it is necessary for the government to restrict the flow of foreign workers into the country and the hiring of workers who are unqualified.

They also called on the authority to form a committee to reopen the naturalization files to get rid of duplications and forgeries.

Thirty-eight MPs, including all ministers supported holding of the session in secret, while 24 MPs voted ‘No’. MPs Khaled Al-Shatti and Hussein Al-Qallaf spoke in favor of the closed-door session while MPs Ahmad Al-Mulaifi and Yusuf Al-Zalzalah spoke against it.

MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan left the session protesting the performance of the Interior Minister. He said the minister was not serious about the ‘issues’.

MP Ahmad Al-Mulaifi also criticized the minister for not bringing with him security officials to respond to the queries posed by lawmakers. He called on Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud to resign and threatened to file a grilling request against him.

MP Hamad Al-Dosari added the lawmakers had expected the minister to attend the session with security officials. “The minister must realize the deficiency in his ministry, otherwise the lawmakers will be forced to use their constitutional tools,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Interior Minister said he is ready to face any grilling request, saying “I am ready.”
Speaking to reporters after the session, the Minister said he was pleased to discuss with members of the National Assembly the security situation in the country. He added, he had answered the queries from MPs in this regard “and will benefit from the observations they made.”

He assured the Interior Ministry is keen to carry out all its duties. He noted the security situation is the responsibility of several state bodies within an integrated system including ministries and special authorities as well as the family.

The minister promised to study the recommendations submitted by the MPs. He indicated the ministry will submit a report on these recommendations within the next three months.

When asked why other officials in the ministry did not attend the session, the minister indicated many issues were tackled during the session and “it is not possible to identify a specific issue for a certain sector or another because it is the responsibility of many sectors, even other authorities apart from the Interior Ministry.

On the issue of ‘foreign’ parties which are said to be interfering in the internal affairs of the country, the minister said “We have responded to this question during the session and we hope the lawmakers were satisfied with the answers.”

For his part, the Speaker of the Parliament explained the session was very important and that the lawmakers laid noted all observations related to the performance of Interior Minister and his ministry.
MP Askar Al-Enezi noted during the past period Kuwait passed through difficult situations because of security lapses which resulted in crimes, street demonstrations and the recent murder of a young Lebanese doctor inside the Avenues Mall.

He called on top officials in the Interior Ministry to exert more efforts and be alert especially that the rate of crime in Kuwait is low when compared to Europe and other countries.

MP Abdullah Al-Mayouf disclosed the session discussed all security issues including crime, street protests, sit-ins, foreign interference in Kuwait’s internal affairs, media and poor performance of Interior Ministry leaders who the MPs said must be ‘changed’.

Stressing that not only the Interior Ministry should be held responsible on security issues in the country but the government as a whole, Al-Mayouf added the session did not touch on the bedoun issue though some MPs wanted to mention some former MPs in their discussion of crimes and security issues, but the Parliament rejected mentioning of names.

MP Mishari Al-Husseini explained indoor security sessions was marred with clear personal attacks on the Interior Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah,” which led to my withdrawal from the session and refused to speak in protest against personal attacks on the minister.”

In a press statement, Al-Husseini stated at the beginning of the session he felt there was a conspiracy against the interior minister. He added, “We support serious accountability, and we understand there are flaws in the Interior Ministry, but we reject attacking persons which was clear in the session.”

He said there were some MPs who just concluded that the Interior Minister must go “such comments are totally unacceptable in political work and we need to listen to other’s viewpoints,” he asserted.

He said he is surprised some MPs demanded a statement from the Interior Minister. He said, “The discussions centered on security file and the file consists of many issues which would require numerous statements.”

He said a statement need to be issued if there is a particular issue, “but for the security file a statement must be issued when there are figures and statistics.”

He explained the political work must be consistent with clear cut statements not on the basis of ‘a group against a group.’ “It is clear there are some who wanted to embarrass the Interior Minister by calling for his resignation.”

Speaking on an announcement made by MP Al-Mulaifi about his plan to grill the Interior Minister, Al-Husseini said the MP was prejudiced. He added, “The whole thing is some want to be seen as heroes.”

On the other hand, MP Hussein Al-Qallaf denied the Interior Minister was targeted during the closed-door session. He explained the MPs voted on whether the session should be held in closed door or open and after that the Minister was asked if he can present his security strategy and what are the practical plans that he has to present to face the security lapses.

He said the majority voted for the closed-door session saying an open session would impede the work of the ministry and this would lead to revealing measures and actions that the ministry wants take in this regard.

He added the minister was asked to either issue a statement to show his seriousness about addressing the situation or withdraw from the session, adding “Actually the minister decided to give information in this regard.”

When asked about the MP who wants to grill the minister, Al-Qallaf explained the Interior Ministry must be responsible for failing to stop the security lapses and curb crime. He said if an MP wants to file a grilling request against the minister, he said it is his right.

On whether the session discussed the street marches and demonstrations organized by the opposition, Al-Qallaf affirmed the session discussed everything concerning security issues “We even discussed what is more serious than that which is about some people who play with Kuwait’s security from outside the country.”

By: Nihal Sharaf and Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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