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KUWAIT CITY, March 29: Ten MPs have signed a non-cooperation motion against His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled. These MPs include Ahmed Mutei Al-Azmi, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, Mubarak Al-Hajraf, Saleh Zeiab Al- Mutairi, Fares Al-Otaibi, Abdulkareem Al-Kandari, Hamdan Al-Azmi, Thamer Al-Suwait, Al-SaifiMubarak Al-Saifiand Soud Bu Sleeb. This came after the National Assembly discussed Tuesday the grilling motion that MPs Muhannad Al-Sayer, Khalid Al-Otaibi and Hassan Jawhar filed against the premier on the following issues: illegal practices of the premier, disruption of work in the interest of citizens, lack of cooperation with the legislative authority, systematic stealing of public funds and squandering of national wealth.
Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim confirmed receiving the non-cooperation motion, indicating the Assembly will vote on the motion on April 6. During Tuesday’s session, the three MPs were given one hour each to conduct their presentation on the motion, while Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid was given three hours to respond. Al-Sayer stressed that he and his colleagues are keen on addressing constitutional violations, affirming the Constitution protects the State and citizens. He holds Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid accountable for the spread of corruption in public institutions.
He accused the premier of failing to fulfill the promise he made to 16 MPs regarding the ratification of seven urgent bills as agreed in February 2021. He pointed out the agreement would have been the basis for cooperating with the government. On the contrary and to the MPs’ surprise, Sheikh Al-Khalid submitted a request to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to suspend parliamentary work for one month, because of non-agreement between the Assembly and government.
He called to mind the quid pro quo practice of the government during the special session allotted for deliberations on the proposed incentive for workers on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 and increasing the capital of Kuwait Credit Bank (CBK). He wondered how the premier drafted three programs of the government in three years although the bill on the State’s development plan has not been ratified. He added the current program of the government is unrealistic.
Meanwhile, Al-Otaibi said the government’s bad management is more devastating than any other factor due to the squandering of public funds and spread of corruption. He asked the premier why it took him a long time to form the current government, considering this has negatively affected the interests of citizens. He criticized the quid pro quo practice of the government as it turned the MPs’ job from legislation and monitoring into mere processing of individual transactions. Al-Otaibi disclosed that he forwarded 19 queries to the premier, but the latter did not respond to 17 of these queries under the pretext that they are unconstitutional.
He denounced the lack of seriousness in recovering the stolen public money and protecting public funds, as well as the appointment of senior officials and consultants with the same job grade as a minister. He pointed out that the premier did not respond to the MPs’ request to hold special sessions to discuss the bills on expanding the authority of courts to include citizenship lawsuits, and amending laws on parliamentary elections and remand. He asked why the government does not attend the special sessions, and which articles of the Constitution or Assembly Decree stipulate the need to coordinate with the government first before holding a special session; asserting this is just hearsay. In addition, Jawhar highlighted the premier’s failure to fulfill his promise to address the demographic imbalance issue; particularly changing the structure to be 30 percent expatriates and 70 percent citizens.
He also drew everyone’s attention to the rank of Kuwait in the Corruption Perception Index; and failure of the government to address urgent issues like healthcare, housing and education. Since 2003, Kuwait has been ranked 78th in the Corruption Perception Index; while the Public Reserve Fund had KD55 billion but it became zero during the term of Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid. The government showed that it regretted its initiative to ensure transparent parliamentary elections when it submitted a bill on establishing a higher council for elections only to withdraw the proposal later, the lawmaker asserted.
On the Kuwait Army Fund, Jawhar said the military has 64 bank accounts in Al-Ahli Bank-London branch; but there has been no official information about these bank accounts so far and the government has not taken any action in this regard. He added the whole nation is experiencing an unprecedented frustration over the situation due to the premier’s insistence to remain in office. He believes the premier is doing this because he is afraid to have the same fate as his predecessor, who is currently standing trial.
In response to the lawmakers, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid affirmed that he respects the Constitution. He pointed out the grilling motion was filed on March 9, just a couple of days after His Highness the Amir sent a letter to the Assembly urging the MPs to put national interest above all and ensure national security. He said the MPs who accused him of violating the Constitution violated the Assembly Decree when they disrupted the election of the speaker through secret ballot. On his request to postpone deliberations on the grilling motions against him, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid pointed out that seven motions were included in the agenda of the session held on March 30, 2021 – at the height of the Covid-19 crisis. He opted for postponing such discussions until the next parliamentary round in order to focus on addressing the crisis. He said it is not his habit to postpone grilling motions, clarifying his request was based on the situation at the time. He added that dissolving the Assembly is the sole right of HH the Amir as per Article 107 of the Constitution, but some MPs insist on filing one grilling motion after the other to push for parliamentary dissolution.
He said the Amiri initiative on holding the national dialogue saved the Kuwaiti society from a lot of stress. He revealed that two of the MPs who filed the grilling motions are among the 40 MPs who signed the amnesty request submitted to HH the Amir. He went on to say that he has been accused of causing problems for decades although he assumed office only two years ago and the Covid-19 pandemic started just two months after he occupied the post. On being held accountable for the disqualification of former MP Bader Al-Dahoum, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid argued that he neither filed the case nor issue the court verdict. He thinks he is being questioned, just because he implemented the decision of the court. Before the Covid-19 crisis, the government was slower than a turtle in terms of automation, but it became faster than a rabbit during the crisis.
On recovering stolen public money, he quoted the State Audit Bureau (SAB) as saying that the public fund has not been touched. “They are questioning me for not recovering money which does not exist,” he added. Moreover, MP Obaid Al-Wasmi, who delivered a speech in support of the premier, wondered about the difference is between postponing the grilling motions and the MP who unveiled his plan to file successive grilling motions. On the appointment of senior offi- cials with the same job grade as minister, Al-Wasmi argued this has been the practice since 1962; so how could they question the premier on an issue which he is not responsible for. If any MP is against such law, he can submit a bill to amend it. The need for coordination between the legislative and executive authorities before holding a special session is not hearsay as it is in accordance with the law, he added; while clarifying that he is against the unconstitutional request to postpone deliberations on grilling motions which have yet to be filed. MP Soud Bu Sleeb delivered a speech in support of the grilling motion, indicating the premier did not reply properly to the points raised in the motion. He said the premier is detached from the life of citizens, up to the extent that he does not know the number of jobless citizens. He accused Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid of taking advantage of loopholes in the Constitution and Assembly Decree, adding that the latter delayed the formation of his first government for three months and 62 days for the second government. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff