MP to demand probe in deportation of opposition activist

KUWAIT: Two key developments happened yesterday in continued efforts to secure a temporary lifting of international suspension on Kuwaiti sports. Head of the National Assembly's sports and youth committee MP Saadoun Hammad sent two letters to the International Olympic Committee and football's controlling body FIFA, asking them to lift the suspension on Kuwaiti sports for six months until new legislation are approved by the Assembly.

Hammad sent the letters although a number of MPs said the move will have no effect on the international sports organizations because previous similar attempts had failed. IOC, FIFA and several international sports federations suspended Kuwaiti sports from international competitions in October last year over government interference. The suspension deprived Kuwait from participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics and barred the national football team from taking part in the qualifying rounds for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.

In his letters, Hammad said the Assembly and the government are cooperating to introduce the necessary amendments to the sports laws to become compatible with international sports charters. He appealed to both bodies to cooperate with Kuwait by lifting the suspension and promised that IOC will be invited to take part in the making of the law.

Meanwhile, member of the committee and opposition MP Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei said yesterday he handed Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, an initiative he thinks could lead to lifting the suspension. Under the initiative, the government pledges to IOC to amend the sports legislation to be compatible with the international sports charter and to withdraw all cases against international sports organizations.

The government will also pledge to withdraw decisions dissolving local sports federations until courts have ruled in lawsuits filed by the government against them, the lawmaker said. Subaei said the legal office of the Public Authority for Sports has advised it against continuing the cases against international sports bodies, warning that Kuwait could end up paying $1 billion each to IOC and FIFA if Kuwait loses those cases.

The lawmaker said that this is the last proposal to be submitted to the minister and the prime minister regarding efforts to lift the suspension, adding that "we will not remain silent any longer". He said that they will have a firm position on this matter next week and "we will take all the procedures guaranteed under the constitution after consulting with other MPs", a reference to preparations underway to grill the information minister or even the prime minister. Reports quoted opposition MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei as saying last week that he was contemplating grilling the prime minister over the sports dilemma.

In another sensitive development, opposition MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf said yesterday that he plans to submit a request to the Assembly tomorrow to launch a probe into why the government deported opposition activist Saad Al-Ajmi. Ajmi was deported to Saudi Arabia two years ago, months after the government revoked his citizenship as part of a crackdown on the opposition.

Hajraf said he will also submit a motion to debate the government's policy on revoking citizenships, adding that the government has remained uncooperative with the new Assembly. The government had revoked the citizenship of several opposition leaders and activists and their family members and some relatives in 2014 over a variety of reasons. These cases are being looked by courts.

By B Izzak