With elections to the National Assembly to be held before year-end, it appears lawmakers have made grillings their ‘go-to-tool’ to demonstrate their competence before their voters. Regular interpellations of ministers, and subsequent ‘no-confidence’ motions, have become a consistent feature during the past several parliamentary sessions. Maybe, the parliament could set aside several sessions during each term dedicated just for grillings, so that at least for the remaining sessions lawmakers could concentrate on tackling the numerous economic, financial and social concerns of citizens. It is a tall order, but one can always hope.
Tuesday’s session of parliament witnessed another spate of grillings. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq AlGhanim announced during the session held on 1 September that the parliament will hold a special session on September 10 to vote on a no-confidence motion against Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Anas Al-Saleh.
The no-confidence motion, the second facing the interior minister in less than twoweeks, was filed following a grilling motion by lawmaker Mohammad Hayef during the National Assembly’s session on Tuesday. MP Hayef had filed the grilling request against the minister on 27 August, just a day after the Minister Al-Saleh comfortably survived a vote of no-confidence that had been brought on by other lawmakers. Minister Al-Saleh’s grilling during Tuesday’s parliamentary session centered on allegations by MP Hayef of Interior Ministry intrusions into the private affairs of citizens.
The lawmaker also accused the minister of “covering up” crimes that targeted state security Following the interpellation, 10 MPs submitted a no-confidence motion against the minister. Article 102 of the Kuwaiti constitution and article 14 of the National Assembly bylaw stipulates that a no confidence motion can be tabled against a minister if a minimum of 10 MPs back the motion. The bylaw also states that the ‘vote-of-confidence’ can be held only after seven days from the date of filing the motion.
Accordingly, the no-confidence motion will be put to vote on the floor of the House at the special session of the National Assembly on 10 September. Education Minister to face noconfidence vote: During the same session held on Tuesday, Speaker Al-Ghanim informed the House that the upcoming special parliamentary session scheduled for 10 September would also take up a no-confidence motion against Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Dr. Saud Al-Harbi.
Earlier during Tuesday’s session, Minister Al-Harbi had faced two separate grillings, one tabled by MP AlHumaidi Al-Subai and the other by MPs Khalil Abul and Ouda AlRuwaiee. The lawmakers thankfully agreed to combine the two grillings into one which accused the minister of failing to abide by regulations of the Council of Ministers and Civil Services Commission (CSC) regarding priority of employment for the Kuwaiti citizens.
The minister was also accused of not adopting proper decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. In their grilling against the minister, MPs Abul and Al-Ruwaiee also alleged that the minister had mismanaged and caused confusion in the various departments of the ministry over Kuwait’s online education platform. In addition, they accused him of undermining the private education system, adopting decisions without considering quality criteria, and harming the education process of students, as well as delaying the announcement of scholarships and failing to issue university degrees to ‘stateless’ students despite them completing their studies.
At the end of the two grillings, 10 MPs put their signature to a no-confidence motion against the minister. The signatories were: Abdulwahab Al-Babtain, Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, Alhumaidi Al-Subaie, Bader Al-Mulla, Farraj Alarbeed, Dr. Khalil Abul, Naser Al Dosari, Dr. Odah Al Rowaie, Omar Al-Tabtabae and Yousef Al-Fadhala.
Prime Minister to face grilling: In yet another development during the contentious parliamentary session on Tuesday, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah asked for the postponement of his grilling motion, which was submitted separately by two MPs Abdulkarim Al-Kanderi and AlHumaidi Al-Subaie. Elaborating on his interpellation request against the prime minister, which was tabled on 26 August, MP Al-Kanderi said that the first part of his grilling deals with “the government’s mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic.”
In its second part, the questioning will center on the “general policy of the government regarding the country’s fiscal deficit, and the issuance of Decision No. 728”. The third axis on which the grilling will take place is with regard to allegations of “violating Article 39 of the Constitution.” For his part, MP Al-Subaie stated that his grilling will center on the issue of negligence and carelessness on the part of the prime minister in protecting oil revenues, and his failure to hold accountable those accused of corruption and swindling of public funds, as well as ignoring reports submitted by the Parliament and the Audit Bureau. He also accused the government of maintaining “the previous government’s infringements on the rights of citizens.”
Citing Article 135 of parliamentary bylaws, the prime minister requested a delay of two weeks, which was then granted and parliament agreed to take up the grilling motion during its session slated for 15 September. Article 135 stipulates that the Speaker of the House should inform the Prime Minister or Minister immediately upon receiving a grilling motion against them, and that it should be included in the agenda of the first session of parliament so as to set a date for holding the grilling, after hearing the statement of the person to whom the interrogation is directed in this regard.
With regard to the date for discussing the motion, Article 135 states that “the discussion of the interrogation shall not take place until at least eight days after the day of its presentation, except in a state of urgency and with the approval of the Prime Minister or the Minister, as the case may be.” The article also gives the person to whom the interrogation is directed, the right to “request the extension for a maximum of two weeks, which can be extended by a further two weeks following a parliamentary resolution. Further postponement is acceptable only if a majority of MPs agree to the request.