The Cabinet yesterday accepted the resignation of Minister of Electricity and Water and Public Works AbdulAziz Al-Ibrahim who stepped down just one day after accusing that some MPs were receiving bribes. The cabinet statement did not give any reason for the resignation only saying that the Council of Ministers understood the reasons of the resignation specified by the minister in his letter. State Minister for Housing Affairs Yasser Abul was appointed as a caretaker for the two posts until a new minister is appointed.
The resignation came after comments by the minister on corruption in the National Assembly sparked angry reactions from many MPs some of whom demanded his resignation while at least two lawmakers announced plans to grill him. On Sunday, the minister was asked by a reporter to comment on a tweet which claimed that some MPs were paid KD 350,000 to grill him. He indirectly agreed and said that's the price of fighting corruption.
That statement was considered by many MPs as an accusation that MPs are corrupt and vowed they will question the minister in the national assembly. Ibrahim issued a statement late Sunday night in which he reiterated that he will continue to fight against corruption. Commenting on his resignation, liberal MP Rakan Al-Nasef said the result is a victory for corruption forces.
MP Abdulhameed Dashti, who vowed to grill the minister, welcomed the resignation saying it will deal a heavy blow to some influential quarters who benefited from the presence of the minister. MP Awdah Al-Awdah, who on Sunday promised to grill the minister, said yesterday that he will still file the grilling against the new minister because of the validity of the issues.
Ibrahim, a long-serving bureaucrat in the Electricity and Water Minister since 1979, was appointed in the cabinet for the first time in July 2012. He was later given the Public Works portfolio. He was grilled at least twice on several allegations including scrapping contracts to favor certain people. He denied the allegations and defended himself well.
In another development, head of the public funds protection committee MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji said yesterday the panel discussed with the Legal and Fatwa Department, the government's legal department, the scrapping of the Dow Chemical venture that led to the payment of the huge $2.2 billion penalty.
Turaiji said that it is clear that the government is not serious in finding who decided to scrap the multi-billion-dollar joint venture, adding that more meetings will be held next week to discuss a report by the Audit Bureau and another by a government probe committee.
MP Hamdan Al-Azemi meanwhile said he will submit proposals to amend the electoral law to allow voters to elect up to four candidates rather than one in the current law in a bid to end the political stalemate in the country. He provided no further details.