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‘Problems of Bedouns will be addressed’ Speaker, MP smoke peace pipe

KUWAIT CITY, March 4: The government is keen on addressing the problems of Bedouns, says Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Khalid Al-Sabah. Sheikh Al-Khalid made the statement during the regular legislative session on Tuesday in response to the comments and reports presented by MP Saleh Ashour about the arrest of a teenager accused of participating in the recent Bedoun protest in Taima.  Affirming the Interior Ministry is working hard to find lasting solutions to the problems of Bedouns, Sheikh Al-Khalid confirmed the government is now working on a mechanism to address the issue soon. He clarified the ministry follows certain procedures which do not include just watching people destroy police vehicles and stations. He added, “Solving a problem and maintaining national security are two different issues. Is it reasonable to use a knife in attacking security officers?” He disclosed two of those involved in the protest action have been deported and the ministry knows their nationalities. 
 
Talking about the arrest of the teenager, the minister disputed allegations that the arrest happened in the school. He said the ministry summoned the guardian of the teenager and informed him of the latter’s behavior, indicating there is a shared responsibility between the government and the Parliament on the implementation of laws regarding the offense of juveniles.
During the session, members of the Parliament engaged in a heated debate over the recent Bedoun demonstration, which led to the arrest of some participants including the teenager accused of vandalizing police vehicles and assaulting securitymen.
 
MP Saleh Ashour criticized the government for its failure to resolve the Bedoun issue. He stressed the need to address the problem to serve the interest of the country. He pointed out that seeing children participating in street demonstrations regardless of the purpose is a dangerous sign considering the dire consequences of the act. He wants to know who encouraged the children to participate in the demonstration and attack the security officers. 
He lamented the government had previously informed the lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that 35,000 Bedouns deserve citizenship but no concrete step has been taken to naturalize them until now. 
MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah asked the government to refrain from publishing photos of the arrested teenager and he should not be accused of being a threat to the State’s security as the action will tarnish the image of the country. 
 
MP Jamal Al-Omar urged the interior minister to deport some non-Kuwaitis proven to have been involved in Bedoun demonstrations, destroyed government properties and assaulted securitymen. He also asked the government to speed up the procedures for granting citizenship to deserving Bedouns.
Meanwhile, the Parliament decided to postpone until Wednesday the discussion on the request of the Public Prosecution to lift immunity of Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem in the press misdemeanor case filed against him by MP Safa Al-Hashim. 
The Parliament, on the other hand, rejected a request to lift the immunity of MP Abdurrahman Dashti in the press misdemeanor case filed against him by former MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei. 
During the session, the speaker appealed to the parliamentarians to vote for lifting his immunity because he and Al-Hashim have the right to resort to the court. He argued that even if he is the Speaker, lifting his immunity is a laudable act “to prove we are in a democratic country and to set an example to other lawmakers”. He disagreed with those who think his work will be disrupted once his immunity is lifted.
 
To this, Al-Hashim responded saying that she decided to give up and rejected the request of the Public Prosecution as she wants to maintain cooperation and friendship with the Speaker, so both of them can focus on more important issues. She then unveiled her plan to withdraw the case she filed against the speaker who, in turn, promised to withdraw the cases he filed against her.
In the meantime, the Parliament unanimously approved the proposed amendments to the Sports Law. State Minister for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud Al-Sabah said the law is flawed and the proposed amendments are aimed at giving the sports clubs a chance to correct their status.
On another issue, the Parliament agreed to refer the Audit Bureau report on the Dow Chemical issue to the Public Funds Protection Committee. It also approved the request of the government to withdraw the Juvenile Law from the agenda.
 
In another development, MP Abdul Karim Al-Kandari announced his plan to submit a grilling request against Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Naif Al-Ajmi within two weeks if the latter does not issue the executive bylaw for the Anti-Corruption Law. He said the grace period for issuing the executive bylaw ended a year ago, adding his grilling request will focus on the importance of implementing the law.
During the Parliament’s deliberation on the queries submitted to ministers, MP Mohammed Al-Hadiya talked about the questions he forwarded to the minister of education on the rising number of private schools in residential areas and plan to solve the issue. He said the minister informed him that the private schools will be relocated to investment areas and a number of private schools in Hawally have already been relocated. However, he considers the response a way to dodge responsibility; citing as example the situation in Salwa where there are 14 private schools but only one was relocated, compared to more than five schools in Hawally and Jabriya.
 
The minister then promised to look into the situation in Salwa and take appropriate action.
Furthermore, MP Faisal Al-Kandari lamented he submitted one question to all ministers, but only a few responded and others claimed the question is unconstitutional. He pointed out this only proves that the ministers respond to questions depending on their mood.
A number of other MPs agreed with Al-Kandari and this has prompted MP Adel Al-Kharafi to suggest requesting the Assembly Office to make sure all queries are constitutional before forwarding them to the concerned ministers. He believes this will stop the ministers from using ‘unconstitutionality’ as excuse for not responding to parliamentary questions. 
 
MP Jamal Al-Omar agreed with Al-Kharafi, saying the submission of parliamentary queries is aimed at ensuring strict compliance with the Constitution and laws; not to intimidate the government. 
The Assembly then moved to deliberate on the report of the Legislative Committee about the proposed amendments to the Ministers Trial Law.
MP Adnan AbdulSamad asked if there are two governments because the executive authority rejected its own proposal during its meeting with the panel. 
The minister of oil responded, clarifying that the government is not against the proposal; it merely requested for postponement of voting to amend certain items. He affirmed the government is willing to cooperate with the legislature.
After this, majority of the MPs voted to withdraw the report to pave the way for the inclusion of the government’s views for discussion and voting in the upcoming session.
 
 By Abubakar A. Ibrahim and
Ahmed Al-Naqeeb
Arab Times Staff

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