The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Three opposition lawmakers yesterday filed to grill Interior Minister Sheikh Thamer Al-Sabah over a series of alleged violations including illegally banning public gatherings, selectivity in applying the law and failure to resolve the imbalance in the population structure.

The three lawmakers, Thamer Al-Suwait, Abdulkarim Al-Kandari and Khaled Al-Otaibi, also accuse the minister in the grilling of oppressive measures against stateless people or bedoons, failure to control a spike in crime and not respecting parliamentary questions. Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he received the grilling, which will be added to the agenda of the next regular session on June 8.

Sheikh Thamer is the fourth minister to face a grilling by opposition MPs following grillings against the ministers of health, foreign affairs and finance. Opposition MPs have also filed three grillings against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, but the government says he cannot be grilled because the Assembly decided on March 30 to postpone grillings against the prime minister until the end of 2022. Opposition MPs insist the decision is illegal and against the constitution.

Under the constitution, following the debate of a grilling, 10 MPs can file a vote of no-confidence against the minister. To pass, it needs 25 votes and if accepted, it means an automatic dismissal of the minister. The opposition has a sufficient strength to unseat any minister and also to declare non-cooperation with the prime minister. The government boycotted the previous two sessions of the Assembly after opposition MPs sat in seats reserved for the Cabinet. The opposition lawmakers said they will continue to do so until the prime minister accepts to be grilled.

The new grilling says that the interior minister prevented legal public gatherings from taking place, which is a violation of the constitution, laws and rulings by the constitutional court. It also alleges that the minister referred almost two-thirds of Assembly members to court for violating health precautions while he ignored similar violations by others, thus selectively applying the law.

The grilling charges that the interior ministry has adopted oppressive measures against thousands of bedoons, thus complicating their decades-old plight, prompting a number of bedoons to commit suicide. It also charged that the minister has failed to tackle the chronic traffic problem in the country. which has resulted in the death of hundreds and also failed to curb a steep rise in the crime rate, which saw some 900 assaults on persons in 2020. The grilling also accuses the minister of failing to answer questions sent to him by a number of lawmakers.

Yesterday, the interior ministry said it has launched new pages on three social media platforms to keep non-Arabic speakers informed regarding new laws, public announcements and awareness messages. The account EN_KUW_MOI, which is available on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, comes amid the ministry's ongoing efforts to boost its media outreach nationwide, Director of PR and Media Tawheed Al-Kandari said.

Meanwhile, the education ministry yesterday postponed the final paper-based exams for grade 12 students from May 30 to June 9. The decision came following demands from lawmakers as well as parents to allow more time for students to prepare for their finals, the ministry explained in a statement on its official Twitter account.