Kuwait lawmakers to vote on fate of two ministers

Move to remove the ministers requires no-confidence votes from at least 25 of the 50 lawmakers

Oil Minister Bakheet Al Rashidi and Social Affairs and Labour and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al Sabeeh

Manama: The outcome of the lawmaker’s vote on Thursday whether to keep two ministers or to have them removed looms as litmus test for relation between the government and the parliament.

The extraordinarily lengthy quizzing of Oil Minister Bakheet Al Rashidi and Social Affairs and Labour and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al Sabeeh last week ended with 10 lawmakers in each case filing two motions for a no-confidence vote.

The parliament will debate both moves and should at least 25 of the 50 lawmakers in each case approve the motion, the minister is removed.

The government has been saying since last week that it has full confidence in both ministers and that they would pass the vote.

However, lawmakers who had pressed for the non-confidence vote have claimed that the parliament would appreciate their arguments and would vote the ministers out of their office.

The grilling of Al Sabeeh by MP Salah Ashoor was followed throughout this week with accusations and arguments in the media.

The lawmaker said that the minister had no legal ground to shut down a society with which he was closely associated, but Al Sabeeh insisted that it had broken the law on several accounts and that it could not be given a preferential treatment.

Ashoor said that he would resign from the parliament if Al Sabeeh proved the financial irregularities she reportedly mentioned in her explanations for closing down Al Thaqalain Society.

In February, Al Sabeeh breezed through a no-confidence motion charging financial and administrative irregularities in her ministry after 29 lawmakers voted for her and 13 against her.

A non-confidence vote would most likely strain further tense relations between the government and the parliament, and could result in the Emir calling for early elections.

The sitting parliament was elected in November and the government was formed in December.

The last bitter standoff between them in October 2017 led to the dissolution of the parliament to head off a no-confidence vote in acting Information Minister Shaikh Mohammad Al Abdullah Al Sabah over budget issues.

The parliament also had plans to question other ministers as well, exacerbating the political turmoil in the northern Arabian Gulf country.

Only six elected parliaments lasted their full terms since constitutional life was launched in 1962 while 55 parliaments were dissolved for different reasons.

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