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Grilling pulled after Dashti walkout
May 20, 2015, 10:36 am
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The Parliament, in its regular session Tuesday, withdrew indefinitely the interpellation motion that MP Abdul-Hameed Dashti filed against First Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al- Khalid Al-Sabah from its agenda. This came after Dashti walked out of the session hall in protest against the decision to discuss the grilling motion behind closed doors. Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim removed the motion from the agenda in accordance with Article 141 of the parliamentary bylaw since no one will handle the grilling in place of Dashti.

In his interpellation request, Dashti held the minister responsible for Kuwait’s participation in the Saudi-led war against the Shiite Houthi militias and the signing of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Security Pact. He added the minister has filed cases against Kuwaiti activists and politicians, including himself, for criticizing Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. When the Parliament decided to debate the grilling motion, the minister confirmed his readiness to face the grilling but he demanded for cancellation of one of the interpellation points – Kuwait’s participation in the GCC air strike on Yemen – because he considers it unconstitutional.

The request was approved with 45 votes in favor, nine against and two abstentions. During deliberations on the cancellation of the grilling point, MP Mubarak Al-Haris, who supports the request, argued this point is deemed harmful to Kuwait’s general interest as it could isolate the country from other GCC nations and the entire region.

He said some constitutional experts had earlier demanded for the cancellation of this point because the foreign minister has nothing to do with defense-related issues, particularly Kuwait’s participation in the Operation Decisive Storm which is under the jurisdiction of the GCC Defense Council. He added that when the GCC approved the operation, Kuwait was expected to participate as one of the member-nations; indicating the country participated in 1967 and 1973 wars in accordance with the Arab joint defense agreement. Another supporter of the request, MP Faisal Al-Kandari, affirmed that the issue is under the jurisdiction of H.H. the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, not the minister. He explained that H.H. the Amir is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, so he has the power to declare defensive war. He also emphasized the need to cancel this grilling point as it does not serve the interests of the country.

On the other hand, MP Khalil Abdullah, who is against the request, stressed the need for a comprehensive report on the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the grilling point in question. He asserted a grilling motion should not be put off just to defend a minister. MPNabil Al-Fadel argued the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be treated differently from other ministries because it is in charge of sensitive issues, so he demanded for the cancellation of all the grilling points.

The Speaker then affirmed that he will not allow parliamentary practices to threaten the interests of the country and instigate chaos in the Kuwaiti society. Reacting to the arguments presented in the session, Dashti stressed he understands all the views but he was surprised when some MPs rejected the grilling motion even before reading it and depicted him as disobedient to H.H. the Amir. He clarified the decision on Kuwait’s participation in the ongoing war should have been presented to the Parliament for debate in order to avoid constitutional violations.

He said that in the 1967 and 1973 wars, a decree was issued to regard Israel as an enemy. He then asked why his colleagues refrained from expressing their opinions on the Wafra and Al-Khafji joint oilfields with Saudi Arabia. This enraged some of the MPs, resulting in a commotion inside the session hall. MP Hamad Al-Harshani raised his headband in an attempt to hit Dashti, but other MPs and securitymen intervened.

Interpellation

In a related development, Dashti held a press conference after walking out of the session hall. He said he submitted the interpellation motion as a representative of the people and in accordance with Article 100 of the Constitution. He asserted that his intention is to serve the interests of the Kuwaiti public whenever he presents issues; including Kuwait’s participation in the Operation Decisive Storm, some Bahraini figures raising the picture of Sadam Hussein and insulting Kuwait, and his objection to the Gulf Security agreement.

He claimed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is acting kingly, more than how a king is expected to act, as it usually files complaints against anyone who voices opinions on its activities. While saying this, he showed a list of 17 Kuwaitis who are facing legal procedures due to their alleged objection to the ministry’s decisions. He added that when the decision to discuss his grilling request behind closed doors was taken, he realized there is no point in seeing the interpellation through for there will be no coverage on the proceedings.

Furthermore, Abdullatif Radhi, a Kuwaiti parliamentary researcher and political analyst who spoke on the sideline of the session, explained that based on past scenarios; the Constitutional Court typically approves a motion for withdrawal of an interpellation or cancellation of a particular grilling point if it contravenes the Constitution. He said Dashti may have fully believed that his interpellation is in line with the Constitution, because he did not take any step to gain support for the motion prior to the session.

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