The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Leading opposition MPs Bader Al-Dahoum and Mohammad Al-Mutair yesterday filed to grill HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah over what they charged is the "selective" implementation of laws. The move came after the government decided to refer some 15 MPs, including the two grillers, and dozens of activists to court for breaching health measures by holding a gathering attended by some 300 people.

Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he received the grilling and informed the government, adding that the grilling will be placed on the agenda of the next session to determine a date for its debate. The Assembly can meet only after March 18, because HH the Amir suspended regular sessions for a month from Feb 18.

A large number of lawmakers expressed total support for the grilling and it is highly expected to get enough votes to declare non-cooperation with the prime minister, triggering yet a new political crisis. Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah is also facing a tough time after MPs declared that they will file at least two grillings against him for his "confusing" decisions that failed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

MP Hasan Jowhar said a meeting with government ministers failed to defuse tensions over the health minister's grilling, adding that the minister should "resign or face the grilling". MP Ahmad Al-Azemi said yesterday he will file to grill the health minister over the damage caused by the coronavirus and his recommendations that harmed the country. A large number of lawmakers also declared their support for the minister's grilling, which means that the grillers have enough votes to dismiss the minister out of office.

In their grilling, MPs Dahoum and Mutair said they had agreed to turn a big public rally into a press conference after a meeting with Interior Minister Sheikh Thamer Al-Sabah due to health restrictions. They said they were surprised that the ministry still sent them to court for violating health measures, which shows that the government did not keep its word and was selective in applying the law, as it closed its eyes to many similar events.

The grilling said the government had taken no action toward a group of supporters of the Assembly speaker who disrupted the Assembly's opening session in December. The prime minister and the entire Cabinet resigned in January after three lawmakers filed to grill the premier. The resignation was accepted by HH the Amir, and Sheikh Sabah was later renamed to form the new Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday ordered the ministry of commerce and industry to start accepting online bookings by the public to visit cooperative societies between 5 pm and 10 pm during the partial curfew. The Cabinet was briefed by Sheikh Basel on the health situation in the country. The minister revealed 322,000 people in Kuwait have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19. Kuwait yesterday reported 1,326 new coronavirus cases and six deaths, taking total cases to 201,898 and deaths to 1,133.

The Assembly's legal and legislative committee meanwhile approved a draft law barring the appointment of expats to public sector jobs unless there are no jobseekers among Kuwaitis, children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners and Gulf citizens. The bill forces the government to announce such jobs for Kuwaitis first and then for children of Kuwaiti women, and later to Gulf citizens. If the positions are not filled, then government agencies can invite foreigners.