Minister Aseeri quits after more MPs vowed to vote against her

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: In the middle of a political controversy from day one of her inclusion in the cabinet, Minister of Social Affairs Ghadeer Aseeri resigned yesterday and her resignation was accepted by the government, ending perhaps the shortest ministerial career in Kuwait’s history.

Aseeri was forced to step down after realizing that more than 25 MPs would vote against her in the no-confidence vote next week, the required number to unseat her as per Kuwaiti parliamentary rules. The former minister said that she opted to resign in order to help avoid an expected collision between the government and the National Assembly, adding that lawmakers gathered against her although she spent just a few days in her post.

Aseeri was grilled last week by Islamist opposition MP Adel Al-Damkhi on allegations that she violated the constitution and that she showed disrespect to lawmakers and their voter bases through issuing unwise statements. She denied the allegations during the grilling debate but 10 MPs filed a no-confidence motion against her and the voting was supposed to take place next Tuesday.

By then, it was not clear if the minister was going to lose the voting battle but her opponents claim that she later took a number of decisions in the ministry that angered many other MPs who publicly declared they would vote against her, thus making her case a hopeless one.

Earlier this month, several Islamist lawmakers strongly criticized the prime minister for including her in the cabinet because she had expressed sympathy publicly with the anti-government protests in Bahrain in 2011 and criticized Gulf states for sending troops to Bahrain to help the government against demonstrators.

MP Mohammad Al-Mutair had vowed to grill the prime minister if he went ahead to include Aseeri in the cabinet but he had to call his grilling off to allow the assembly to vote on a law granting amnesty to a number of jailed opposition activists and former MPs.

But controversial statements by the minister pushed MP Damkhi to file the grilling against the minister. The government accepted the resignation and appointed Municipality Minister Waleed Al-Jassem as acting minister of social affairs. Speaking after the resignation, MP Damkhi insisted that the row with the minister was not personal and called on the government to stick to clear standards in picking up ministers.

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