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Kuwaiti PM survives vote of no confidence 5, January 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammmed, a nephew of the Emir, today survived a vote of no confidence. This is despite small rallies outside MPs’ houses to pressure them to vote against the PM. In the end 25 MPs supported the PM while 22 were against with one abstaining. 25 votes are needed to pass the motion.

This is the eighth time that he has had such a motion lodged against him. On six of these occasions, Parliament was dissolved, he resigned or the Cabinet was reshuffled by the Emir to avoid the spectacle of the Royal PM being subjected to such a fate. The penultimate occasion saw Al Mohammed stand his ground and win comfortably. This ushered in a period of relative calm and cooperation between the Government and the Parliament where – for once – crucially important long term projects were pushed through.

The current ‘grilling’ (interpolation) and subsequent vote of confidence stems from a growing anger by opposition groups who feel that the Government is slowly but surely seeking to reduce their influence. A peaceful gathering outside an MPs house that was harshly broken up by Kuwaiti Special Forces a few weeks ago injuring several MPs was the final straw.

Many at the gathering were protesting to preempt what they  feared was the government plotting to amend the 1962 constitution to weaken political and other civil guarantees therein.  Al Jazeera was banned from Kuwait after covering the reaction of the police.

The key question now is whether the Parliament will return to its intransigent past or move on. Around the 6th and 7th attempted grilling of the PM in 2009, there were real fears of an unconstitutional break in the Parliament by the Emir, such was the degree to which necessary bills and laws were not being passed.

Unfortunately, the opposition appears to be set on removing the PM and could resort to their earlier tactics of seeking to ‘grill’ him over minor, relatively inconsequential matters. They know perfectly well that this is likely to anger the government and once again policy decisions will grind to a halt.



Kuwait jails journalist 14, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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A Kuwaiti journalist has been jailed for 6 months for slandering Kuwait’s Prime Minster Sheikh Nasser Al Ahmed Al Sabah. Apparently, in a public gathering he said that he was “incapable of running the country” and he called on the PM to resign. Just imagine if such an absurd, petty and damaging standard was applied in the West.

Reporters Without Borders reports that Al Jassem, the journalist in question, is the subject of five lawsuits by the PM and the information minister. As a result of one of these suits he was fined $9500 along with the paper that published his article accusing the media of supporting the PM in fermenting Sunni-Shia tension in Kuwait.

Al Jassem was also encouraged to leave the country by Kuwait’s national security chief.

Kuwait’s Prime Minister is a nephew of the current Emir and has been forced to resign five times (I think) because of serious questions about his decision making as well about a cheque for $700,000 which he gave to an MP. Yet, rather than submit himself to the ‘indignity’ of being questioned by MPs as they requested, the Emir has dissolved Parliament three times in recent years.

Rather than dissolve Parliament for a 4th time to avoid wholesale paralysis of the Kuwaiti Parliamentary system and even the potential semi-permanent dissolution of the Parliament at a whole (as in the 1980s) he was questioned by MPs. Yet clearly the key issue remains: various Royal’s inability to get over the notion that they not actually divinely mandated beings and deal with people on a day-to-day basis.

In highlighting and provoking this kind of backward, regressive and wholly out-dated thinking, Mohammed Abdel Qader Al Jassem deserves neither jail nor a fine but the proverbial keys to Kuwait City. You can follow his blog at http://aljasem.org/

Kuwait’s Parliament: breakthrough? 8, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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So, several years and several Parliaments later and Kuwait’s Prime Minister has finally agreed to be cross-examined in Parliament. Previously, Kuwait’s Parliament has been dissolved (numerous times) because the Prime Minister, always a prominent member of the ruling Al Sabah family, had refused to lower himself to the humiliating position of being asked questions by Parliamentarians. Theoretically – very theoretically – this might help with the paralysis that Kuwait has been suffering in recent years. Indeed, there was (and remains to some degree) the very real possibility that the Emir would be forced to disband the misfiring and perpetually deadlocked Parliament to actually get something done. Though this is far from off the table, at least, for now, it is not quite as likely.