In what appears to be the first confrontation with supposedly loyal MPs, the government boycotted the parliamentary session yesterday as all Cabinet ministers submitted their resignations to the prime minister a day after five MPs filed to grill the oil and interior ministers. National Assembly Speaker Ali Al-Rashed told reporters after a meeting with Justice Minister Shareeda Al-Maousherji that he has been informed that “Cabinet ministers submitted their resignation to the prime minister and accordingly they will not attend the Assembly session tomorrow (today)”.
Rashed insisted that the step is not a Cabinet resignation as only ministers have submitted their resignations. Under Kuwaiti law, the Cabinet resigns when the prime minister submits his resignation and the resignations of Cabinet ministers to HH the Amir. It becomes effective only after the Amir accepts it. Rashed said that as the government has its measures, the Assembly also has its constitutional methods.
Earlier in the day, Rashed could not open the Assembly session because of the absence of the government which boycotted the session in protest against the two grillings against the two ministers. Rashed told MPs present in the chamber that “due to the absence of the government and I was informed that the government is not attending, the session is adjourned until tomorrow”. He later said there will be no session today.
MPs later strongly criticized the government for boycotting the session, claiming that the boycott came to prevent the discussion of the grilling of the oil minister and prevent accountability over the payment of a $2.2 billion penalty to US giant Dow Chemical. MP Saadoun Hammad said the move is an attempt to protect some officials who have profited from Kuwait’s scrapped deal with Dow Chemical, known as K-Dow. MPs also charged that the government’s boycott amounted to humiliating the Assembly and an act of disregard to MPs.
A few months ago, the Assembly decided to postpone debating any grilling until the next term starting late October in a bid to give the government ample time to perform. MP Saad Al-Bous said the government’s boycott is not justified especially that the two grillings were not listed on the agenda of the Assembly yesterday but on the agenda of the May 28 session. He said the government has conveyed the wrong message to the Assembly and the people and disappointed the Kuwaiti people, especially that the session was due to approve legislation covering material rights for pensioners and raising the housing allowance for Kuwaitis.
MP Saleh Ashour said the government’s boycott and stance toward grillings have shocked the Kuwaiti people because no one will regret the absence of the government that escapes and cannot face things. “We are not concerned if the Assembly is dissolved or the government resigns – what is more important is to have a government capable of managing the country,” Ashour said.
The new developments came amid reports that the Assembly might be dissolved just a month before a June 16 crucial ruling by the constitutional court on the controversial amendment of the electoral law. But a number of MPs ruled out the possibility, saying they expected the Amir to issue a decree to suspend the Assembly for one month, based on a clause in the constitution.
The measure will give just enough time for the ruling to be issued while the Assembly is not in session. Among many possibilities, the court could declare the electoral law amendment as unconstitutional, which will mean forcing the Assembly’s dissolution and calling for fresh elections. A small number of MPs believe that the government may submit a letter of non-cooperation with the Assembly, which means that the Amir may dissolve the Assembly or sack the Cabinet or both.
By B Izzak, Staff Writer