Kuwait minister faces no confidence vote

Minister of information, a royal family member, "does not know what is going on in the ministry", one MP says.

KUWAIT CITY // The minister of information will face a vote of no confidence, MPs decided during the current government's sixth parliamentary questioning, signalling that the national assembly has yet to resolve the tension that has blighted the institution in recent years. Sheikh Ahmad al Abdullah al Sabah, the minister of information and royal family member, was questioned by Ali al Diqbasi, a member of parliament, over failing to implement media laws and not taking action against a satellite television programme that threatened national unity.

"This sitting will be to promote national unity and freedoms and fight corruption and preserve the gains of the constitution," Mr al Diqbasi said during the interpellation. "The minister does not know what is going on in the ministry." Mr al Diqbasi accused the minister of failing to control television programmes that threatened national unity. Protests erupted in Kuwait last year when a prominent Kuwaiti suggested on a programme broadcast from his own satellite television station that the country's tribesmen were not really Kuwaiti.

"Let's not be like an ostrich and put our head in the earth," Mr al Diqbasi said. "We have to protect our national unity and constitution." Sheikh Ahmad said all ministers and MPs were keen on promoting national unity and used his family's name in his defence. "For 300 years the al Sabah family has been ruling and they are still the family that protects patriotism," he said. Ten MPs signed a motion of no confidence after the questioning, ensuring that the minister would face a vote from the chamber's elected representatives, who do not serve in the cabinet at a special session on March 25. They will need to collect 25 votes from 49 eligible MPs to dismiss the minister.

No minister has ever been dismissed by the parliament before in Kuwait. Several times in the past, the prime minister reshuffled the cabinet to avoid such a vote. In recent years, Kuwait's elected parliament has struggled to work with the royal family-selected government. Last December, the prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al Ahmed al Sabah, who is a senior royal and potential future emir, succumbed to years of pressure from MPs to face them on the podium in a closed-door session.