KUWAIT: MPs and ministers attend yesterday's National Assembly session. - Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: MPs yesterday overwhelmingly rejected two no-confidence motions against the interior and education ministers who were grilled last week for the second time in a few weeks over alleged violations and mismanagement.

Twenty-nine MPs voted in favor of Education Minister Saud Al-Harbi while 15 voted against with three abstentions. Only elected MPs are allowed to vote on no-confidence motions while cabinet members are barred. Thirty-two MPs voted in support of Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh while 16 lawmakers voted against him.

His Highness the Deputy Amir and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah congratulated the two ministers, commending them for their responses, and praising the democratic practice which he said "reflects the civilized nature of Kuwait." Harbi said obtaining the confidence "increased responsibility entrusted upon him," as he asks Allah Almighty to provide him with strength to further improve education. The minister expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to each MP for granting him confidence to continue working, expressing at the same time his appreciation to everyone who disagreed with him.

The motion against Saleh attracted huge attention in the local press, social media and among activists with one group accusing the minister of being part of what they described as the 'deep state'. On the other hand, a part of local press, mainly Al-Rai and Al-Qabas newspapers, strongly defended the minister accusing his opponents of threatening national security.

Opposition MPs who grilled Saleh, the first non-ruling family member to become interior minister, said the minister tried to cover up a massive leak from the secret service police and its involvement in the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund scandal.

MPs speaking in favor of the motion accused the minister of failing to take appropriate actions against officers responsible for leaking the videos and plotting to tap social media accounts of Kuwaiti citizens. The minister categorically denied the accusations, saying that the incident took place before he became a minister and even though he referred the issue to the public prosecution.

Saleh was also accused of not taking legal action against senior officers who benefited from a scandal involving 5,000 stateless or bedoon people who were the victim of buying passports from a foreign country which turned out to be fake. MP Rakan Al-Nasef defended the minister, saying he took all the necessary legal actions against people who violated or exploited the law.

MP Khaled Al-Shatti said the grilling has resulted into a confrontation between two groups in the society. He said that some people learnt of the video leaks over a year but took no action until Saleh was appointed interior minister. Shatti claimed that members of the 'deep state' want to change Saleh because he effectively fought against money laundering, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund scandal and visa traders, besides his efforts to amend the population structure.