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Kuwait oil minister survives no-confidence vote
May 10, 2018, 2:59 pm
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Oil Minister Bakheet Al Rashidi and Social Affairs and Labour and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al Sabeeh

Kuwait’s Oil Minister Bakheet Al Rashidi has survived a no-confidence vote at the parliament today after 34 lawmakers voted in his favour and 11 against him. Parliament Speaker Marzooq Al Ghanem said that 45 lawmakers were present at the session and he called on each of them to state their position regarding the no-confidence motion.

At least 25 out of the 50 lawmakers comprising the parliament were needed to oust the minister who went last week through a grueling quizzing that lasted 11 hours as he responded to allegations of corruption and squandering public funds.

Lawmakers Omar Al Tabtabaei and Abdul Wahab Al Babtain, considered as from the opposition, charged that the minister who had been in office for less than five months, and some top oil executives caused losses worth billions to the state budget.

Al Rashidi refuted the claims and insisted that the mega projects mentioned in the allegations were proceeding as per schedule. However, 10 lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against the minister and argued throughout the week for support to have the minister replaced in the cabinet. T

he government has said that it was confident the minister would not be voted out. State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al Sabeeh also faces a no-confidence vote.

The grilling of Al Sabeeh by MP Salah Ashoor was followed throughout this week with accusations and arguments in the media. The lawmaker said that the minister had no legal ground to shut down a society with which he was closely associated, but Al Sabeeh insisted that it had broken the law on several accounts and that it could not be given a preferential treatment.

Ashoor said that he would resign from the parliament if Al Sabeeh proved the financial irregularities she reportedly mentioned in her explanations for closing down Al Thaqalain Society. In February, Al Sabeeh breezed through a no-confidence motion charging financial and administrative irregularities in her ministry after 29 lawmakers voted for her and 13 against her.

A non-confidence vote would most likely strain further tense relations between the government and the parliament and could result in the Emir calling for early elections. The sitting parliament was elected in November and the government was formed in December.

The last bitter standoff between them in October 2017 led to the dissolution of the parliament to head off a no-confidence vote in acting Information Minister Shaikh Mohammad Al Abdullah Al Sabah over budget issues.

The parliament also had plans to question other ministers as well, exacerbating the political turmoil in the northern Arabian Gulf country. Only six elected parliaments lasted their full terms since constitutional life was launched in 1962 while 55 parliaments were dissolved for different reasons.

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