Opposition MPs warn PM over citizenships, utility charges

KUWAIT: Eleven opposition MPs yesterday demanded an emergency session in the Assembly to debate a solution on how to end the international suspension of Kuwait's sports bodies. The lawmakers said they want the session to be held on Wednesday, just two days before an ultimatum given to Kuwait to rectify its sport legislations to be able to take part in qualifications for the 2019 Asian football cup.

MPs said in the motion that Kuwait was barred from international sports over a year ago because of a number of local legislations issued since 2013 that violate international sports charters. During the opening session of the Assembly on Dec 11, lawmakers passed a recommendation calling on the government to take necessary steps to lift the freeze on Kuwaiti sports.

Minister of Information and Youth Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah said the government is prepared to sit with the International Olympic Committee or world football governing body FIFA or any other side to settle the issue, provided that this does not breach the Kuwaiti constitution or sovereignty. At least three opposition MPs have threatened to grill Sheikh Salman over the sports issue, unless the government adopts the necessary measures to end the suspension, which was imposed in Oct 2015.

The opposition lawmakers also submitted a draft law calling to scrap all controversial sports laws issued in 2013, 2014, 2015 and earlier this year that were cited by world sport bodies as violating international charters. The lawmakers want to revive a 2012 legislation that was in line with the international sports law in a bid to end the suspension.

The government has repeatedly charged that Kuwaitis occupying leading posts in international sports organizations conspired to cause the suspension by complaining to them. In the past few months, the government dissolved the Kuwait Olympic Committee, Kuwait Football Association and several other federations citing financial and administrative violations. A decision on whether to hold the emergency session on Wednesday or not is expected today. The government should agree to the session for it to go ahead or it can demand delaying it.

Meanwhile, a number of opposition lawmakers directly warned Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah over the issue of reinstating citizenships revoked by the government for political reasons and over applying increased electricity and water charges. MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf warned the prime minister that patience was running out quickly and if the government does not show the required cooperation on the issue of citizenships, the prime minister must prepare himself for a grilling. He said that all should shoulder their responsibilities, because playing with citizenships is like playing with the nation, which is totally unacceptable.

MP Mohammad Hayef said the period in which citizenships were revoked has ended and the citizenships must be returned in order to strengthen the internal front. He said that tension over the revoked citizenships must be defused, "otherwise we will be compelled to grill", adding that the Kuwaiti people know that citizenships were revoked because of a political struggle and this is unjust.

MP Mohammad Al-Dallal also insisted that the government should take steps to resolve this issue, because the citizenships were revoked for political reasons. Dallal, who is the head of the legal and legislative committee, said the panel will meet next Sunday to discuss a large number of legislations including the citizenship and DNA test laws. The committee will also discuss the controversy over the election of the deputy speaker and will take the opinion of legal experts.

MP Mohammad Al-Mutair called on the government to halt the implementation of a law to raise power and water charges from next year. Mutair gave the government until May to make the required amendment, otherwise he vowed to file to grill the prime minister.

By B Izzak