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Kuwaiti opposition MP Khaled Al-Tahous yesterday executed his warning and filed a request to grill Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, holding him “responsible for the failure of government institutions to apply the law on plants that have raised pollution levels around the Umm Al-Haiman area”. Tahous had threatened to grill the prime minister if the government did not act and close down several factories that were blamed as the source of pollution and a sharp rise in diseases in the residential area of 45,000 people.

 

The government ignored Tahous' warning and was said by its supporters to be “quietly working on the issue in accordance with an environment protection law”, which does not give it authority to shut down factories without a warning.

 

Parliament speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi said the grilling will be listed on the agenda of the next regular session on June 8 and the government has the right to request a two-week delay. Government and parliamentary sources have raised a number of possibilities in dealing with the grilling including sending it to the constitutional court or to the Assembly's legal and legislative committee, asking it to be postponed until the next term starting late October.

 

May 30, 2010

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk

 

Although the subject of the grilling is environmental, it will undoubtedly have political implications.

 

Grilling the prime-minister is seen as a humiliation in Kuwait and in most situations has either led to the resignation of the prime-minister or dissolution of parliament. The last time a request to question the prime-minister was in October and this avoided a potentially major crisis as the prime-minister agreed to answer the questions. However, this time the grilling request comes weeks after the Emir criticized the parliament and hinted that it may be dissolved and parliamentary life suspended. Therefore the timing of the grilling makes it potentially very serious, leading to either the resignation of the prime-minister or the dissolution of parliament, or both.