Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Agence France Presse
KUWAIT CITY: Ten Kuwaiti opposition MPs filed a motion Tuesday of “non-cooperation” with the prime minister in a bid to oust him from office, Islamist MP Faisal al-Muslim told reporters.
The motion was filed following a marathon eight-hour questioning of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah over allegations of breaching the constitution and suppressing freedoms. The motion, which is to be voted on in a session on January 5, has to be passed by a majority in Parliament before being sent to the emir.
“I am ready to be questioned and I want the debate now,” Sheikh Nasser, a senior member of the ruling family, told Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Khorafi as the session opened.
But the government promptly demanded the questioning be held in a secret session, which Parliament approved by a vote of 36 for and 27 against, opposition MP Mussallam al-Barrak told reporters.
Barrak filed the request to quiz the premier along with two other MPs, Jamaan al-Harbash and Saleh al-Mulla. The three represent opposition liberal, Islamist and nationalist groups and are backed by at least 17 other deputies.
The move came after elite Kuwaiti forces used batons to beat up MPs and citizens at a public rally December 8, injuring at least four lawmakers and a dozen citizens.
Opposition MPs also claim the government was plotting to amend the constitution to cut public freedoms.
The session was being held amid heightened security measures as hundreds of police and special forces controlled all roads leading to the Parliament building in Kuwait City.
Opposition MPs strongly protested, saying such measures violated the constitution which forbids any forces from coming close to Parliament without the speaker’s permission.
About 200 Kuwaitis gathered outside Parliament in support of the opposition, and were joined by around 500 others who had been allowed inside until the session turned secret.
They carried placards supporting the grilling and calling for an open debate. They were prevented by police from gathering in a square just opposite parliament and had to assemble just behind the huge complex.
Opposition MPs plan to file a motion of non-cooperation with the prime minister which, if passed, could unseat him, Barrak said. It requires the support of 25 MPs in the 50-seat house as ministers are banned from voting on the issue.
If the motion is passed, the issue is then sent to the emir who can either dismiss the prime minister or dissolve parliament and call for snap elections.
This is the second time that Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the Gulf state ruler, has faced a grilling in Parliament. In December last year, he was questioned over corruption charges and survived a non-cooperation vote.