Thursday, January 06, 2011
By Omar Hasan
Agence France Presse
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s premier Wednesday narrowly survived a Parliament vote seen as a serious bid to oust him over a police crackdown, but the opposition vowed to keep up their bid to unseat him.
Twenty-five M.P.s voted in support of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a nephew of the Gulf state’s ruler, while 22 were against him and one abstained, speaker Jassem al-Khorafi said.
“In accordance with the Constitution, Parliament reaffirms its confidence and cooperation with the prime minister,” Khorafi said after a three-hour session held behind closed doors.
The “non-cooperation” motion was filed Dec. 28 by opposition M.P.s who accused the premier of breaching the Constitution and suppressing freedoms.
It fell short of the 25 votes needed to be passed in the 50-seat assembly, with one M.P. unable to vote because he is a minister and another absent abroad.
After the vote, Kuwaiti ruler, Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, summoned the crown prince, premier and Parliament speaker to a meeting, the official state KUNA news agency reported.
Leading pro-government Shiite M.P. Hussein al-Qallaf submitted his resignation saying lawmakers can no longer perform their duties.
“The body of this nation has been repeatedly stabbed. Unfortunately, these stabbings did not come from an enemy but from some of its own people, which led to instability, tension and conflicts,” Qallaf said.
The prime minister appealed to the opposition to start a new era in which cooperation between Parliament and government prevails to save the interests of the country.
The vote was the second time in just over a year that a non-cooperation motion has been defeated in the Parliament.
Opposition M.P.s said they would not deal with a government led by Sheikh Nasser and vowed to bring it down.
“Today is the beginning. We will continue to work to bring about the downfall of this government through the streets,” said opposition M.P. Mussallam al-Barrak.
“It’s not possible for M.P.s to deal with a government that has humiliated the Kuwaiti people,” said Islamist M.P. Jamaan al-Harbash.
Opposition lawmakers had filed the motion following a crackdown by riot police to disperse a public gathering in which four M.P.s and a dozen people were injured Dec. 8.
Two leading critics are behind bars, while Kuwait has closed the office of Qatar’s Al-Jazeera television network for covering the police’s use of force in the Dec. 8 gathering.
After Wednesday’s Parliament session, authorities closed down a local satellite television station backing the opposition on charges of violating licensing procedures. The government has also sent to Parliament proposals to toughen laws on punishments for the media, which M.P.s are to discuss at a later date.
Global human rights groups have criticized Kuwait for using force to prevent the opposition’s public gatherings.