Last Updated: Wed May 23, 2012 15:03 pm (KSA) 12:03 pm (GMT)

Kuwait cabinet boycotts parliament in new impasse

The government and opposition in Kuwait are at loggerheads over two requests to question Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali over alleged financial and administrative irregularities. (Reuters)
The government and opposition in Kuwait are at loggerheads over two requests to question Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali over alleged financial and administrative irregularities. (Reuters)

Kuwait’s cabinet on Wednesday boycotted parliament for a second day as MPs accused the government of plotting to dissolve the opposition-controlled house.

The government and opposition are at loggerheads over two requests to question Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali over alleged financial and administrative irregularities.

The government insisted on Tuesday that the two grillings must be debated separately while the opposition, which has a majority in parliament, wants to merge the two and have a single debate.

When the opposition insisted on a vote to resolve the dispute, all government ministers led by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, in power for the past six months, walked out of the session.

The government ministers failed to attend parliament on Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of the session because under Kuwait law parliament sessions are illegal if no ministers attend.

MP Jamaan al-Harbash told reporters the opposition agreed that the two grillings be discussed separately on the same day but the government turned down the concession.

“This is proof that the government wants to escape from the debate ... in a bid to prevent exposing serious embezzlements, violations and corruption,” charged Harbash, an Islamist opposition lawmaker.

Adel al-Damkhi, another Islamist opposition MP, warned that the government boycott was the prelude to dissolving parliament which was elected just over three months ago.

“The government is preparing the Kuwaiti people to dissolve parliament,” he said.

MP Mubarak al-Waalan claimed the government move was an attempt to “cover up and rescue corrupt officials.”

But Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah said the government was still extending its hands of cooperation to MPs provided that laws were not violated.

The finance minister is accused of wide-ranging violations in his ministry and several departments under him, including the oil-rich emirate’s sovereign wealth fund.

Kuwait, OPEC’s third largest producer, has been rocked since 2006 by a series of political crises that led to the resignation of the cabinet several times and parliament being dissolved on four occasions.

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