KUWAIT CITY, Feb 6: Kuwait’s Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Humoud Al-Sabah submitted his resignation Monday, two days before he was scheduled to face a confidence vote over a sports ban, a government source and parliamentarians said. Sheikh Salman’s move comes after around 30 lawmakers of the 50-member house announced their support for the no-confidence motion filed after MPs grilled the minister last week. Three opposition lawmakers questioned Sheikh Salman on Tuesday over a failure to lift a 15-month international ban on Kuwaiti sports and over alleged administrative and financial violations.
They blamed the minister for causing the ban imposed on the Gulf state by the International Olympic Committee, the world football body FIFA and several sports federations. Sheikh Salman, a member of the ruling family, categorically denied the charges, and accused Kuwaitis with senior positions in international sport organisations of orchestrating the suspension.
FIFA and IOC imposed the suspension in October 2015, for the second time since 2010, over alleged government meddling in sports. “An official announcement of the resignation is expected to be made on Tuesday,” a senior government source told AFP, requesting anonymity. This week’s confidence vote needed the support of just 25 MPs to pass.
Under Kuwaiti law, approving the no-confidence motion means automatic dismissal. MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabai, Abdulwahab Al-Babtain and Alhumaidi Al-Subei, who grilled Sheikh Salman, said in statements Monday the minister had resigned and vowed to cooperate with his successor.
The IOC has demanded that Kuwait amend its sports laws and immediately reinstate the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee, which was dissolved in August. It has also urged the country to withdraw all cases it has filed in Swiss courts against international sports bodies challenging the suspension’s legality. As a result of the suspension, Kuwait was barred in early January from taking part in qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup.
Analysts say the crisis was partly caused by a political struggle involving senior ruling family members and politicians. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim disclosed Monday that he has yet to receive official confirmation of the resignation of the minister. Al-Ghanim clarified if it is true that the minister resigned and the Cabinet accepted his resignation, there will be no session about the no-confidence motion on Wednesday. He stressed that no action will be taken based on rumors spread through social networking sites and other media platforms
Meanwhile, MP Thamer Al-Suweit asserted the minister’s resignation is a step in the right direction. He called on the government to take tangible steps and address pending issues rather than working against democracy. MP Abdul Wahab Al-Babtain said, “If it is true that the minister has resigned, I wish him success and happiness. Our hands are stretched out to the next minister who should address all issues mentioned in the grilling motion.” He added the main purpose of the grilling is to resolve pending issues, considering the lawmakers promised to respect the Constitution and laws. He affirmed the lawmakers will continue holding erring ministers accountable and the government should not be afraid of oversight and accountability. “We are not here to intimidate anyone.
Grilling is a constitutional tool guaranteed by the Constitution for members of the Parliament,” he concluded. In another development, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman MP Ali Al-Daqbasi criticized the Iraqi demonstration at Abdullah Bay, describing it as a form of harassment. He said the Iraqi lawmakers should monitor their borders with Iran where violations are common instead of harassing Kuwait. “We will allocate an hour in the next Parliament session to respond to the Iraqi harassment and tackle the Abdullah Bay issue,” he added. Furthermore, the Interior and Defense Committee unanimously approved Monday the proposal to amend the Nationality Law. Committee Rapporteur MP Naser Al-Dausari disclosed the bill stipulates that the Administrative Court is in charge of citizenship withdrawal cases, while it is prohibited to deport anyone stripped of citizenship unless a ruling in this regard is issued.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies