Mutair says he will not contest speaker’s post • MPs welcome ‘sacrifice’

KUWAIT: HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah is received by HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at Bayan Palace yesterday after the Amir signed a decree appointing him as prime minister. - KUNA

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday issued a decree reappointing HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah to form a new Cabinet after the previous government resigned following general elections. Sheikh Sabah will have to form his Cabinet before the new National Assembly holds its inaugural session next Tuesday, in accordance with the Kuwaiti constitution.

HH the Amir’s decision came after he held traditional consultations on Monday by meeting former Assembly speakers Ahmad Al-Saadoun and Marzouq Al-Ghanem and former premiers HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah and Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled. The formation of the new Cabinet will take into consideration the new structure of the Assembly, as an overwhelming majority of newly-elected MPs are pushing for changing Assembly Speaker Ghanem. The position of the new Cabinet is crucial in electing the Assembly speaker, as all the 16 members of the Cabinet are allowed to vote.

Late yesterday, leading opposition figure MP Mohammad Al-Mutair said he has decided to withdraw from the race for speaker, only a day after declaring his intention to contest the post. At a meeting of 38 members of the new Assembly on Monday, Mutair and MP Bader Al-Humaidhi, a former minister, had said they will contest the election for the speakership against the incumbent Ghanem.

But following appeals from several lawmakers for concessions and sacrifices in a bid to have only one candidate for the post, Mutair said he has decided to withdraw. Mutair said in a statement he posted on Twitter that he took the decision “in response to his historical responsibility to rescue Kuwait, its institutions and authorities from a handful of corrupt people” who wrested control of the country in the past few years.

The group of new lawmakers is scheduled to meet today to elect a candidate for the speaker’s post, who is expected to fight against Ghanem. The new development means that if all the 38 MPs stay together, Ghanem will have a very slim chance of retaining his seat, which he occupied almost uncontested for the past seven years. The lawmakers, who call themselves reformists and nationalists, believe that removing Ghanem is the first step towards wider reforms.

Lawmakers warmly welcomed Mutair’s withdrawal. MP Khaled Al-Otaibi said Mutair’s withdrawal is the right step for unity among reformists, adding that it is hoped the meeting today will agree on one candidate for the speaker and another for his deputy.

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MP Bader Al-Dahoum said the withdrawal will serve Kuwait’s interests, while MP Thamer Al-Suwait praised Mutair for his “sacrifice”, adding this will help “restore the presidency of the people’s house”.

The host of today’s meeting, opposition MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, had earlier called on MPs to cooperate and make concessions. He said on Twitter that the Kuwaiti people made sacrifices by bracing the coronavirus and the rainy weather to vote, and “it’s time to make concessions and coordinate for the sake of the loyal people”.

New MP Muhalhal Al-Mudhaf said there is no choice for MPs but to agree on one candidate for the speaker’s post to reflect the will of the Kuwaiti people, adding the lawmakers should not let the people down. New Islamist MP Abdulaziz Al-Saqabi said the Kuwaiti people have voted for reforms and change and lawmakers must respond.

New MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa yesterday said cooperation with the new Cabinet will depend on its position towards the election of the new speaker, alluding that it should not support Ghanem. He said cooperation will also depend on the government’s position over approving a general pardon law, tackling corruption and improving the standard of living of citizens.

Dahoum vowed yesterday that if Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh is reappointed, he will immediately file to grill him because he is not competent for the post. MP Hamdan Al-Azmi immediately said he will support the grilling of the interior minister, adding that the return of “crisis ministers” is not a good beginning for the new Cabinet.

Veteran liberal former MP Ahmad Al-Khatib said on Twitter that people have elected lawmakers with the aim to push reforms and follow up on corruption files. Accordingly, he said reformist MPs should be cautious about fighting unnecessary battles, in a reference to focusing on the speaker. MP Mutair had earlier denied that the attempt to prevent the re-election of Ghanem was for personal reasons. He said those who believe it is personal are not following political developments in the country.