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Political tensions soared to new heights after two opposition MP’s filed separate requests to grill the Kuwaiti interior and public works ministers over a variety of violations. Parliament speaker scheduled the grillings for 8 Dec 2009,  along with the grilling of the prime minister that was filed on earlier. The parliament speaker said that the grilling of the prime minister will be debated first, followed by that of the interior minister and finally of the public works minister.

 

The interior minister – a senior ruling family member, was grilled last June. During the grilling debate for the interior minister in June, the minister told Parliament that he had referred a controversial contract that was the subject of the debate, to the public prosecution for an investigation. The result was that the interior minister survived a vote of no confidence. It emerged later that the public prosecution refused to investigate the matter and that the interior minister was aware of the prosecution’s decision at the time of the grilling. The opposition said that the minister deliberately did not inform Parliament that the public prosecution had already responded to his referral. The lawmaker further claimed that the minister's referral was not phrased in the right way and lacked the necessary information for the public prosecution to launch an investigation, adding that the minister's referral aimed in at using the public prosecution to clear his name.

 

In his grilling request of Minister of Public Works and Municipalities Fadhel Safar, MP Mubarak Al-Waalan made a series of allegations that all focused on administrative and financial violations. He accused the minister of making many promotions of employees in violation of the country's law and also made dozens of appointments illegally. Waalan warned that during the debate of the grilling he will reveal many surprises that will be sufficient to bring the downfall of the minister.

 

The two ministers said they were ready to face the grilling and refute all the accusations.

 

November 19, 2009

 

Analysis and Forecast: increasing risk

 

The latest filling for questioning of the interior and public works ministers may prove to be the last straw before the Emir decides to dissolve parliament.

It is not the first time in Kuwait's history that three grillings have been submitted at the same time. However, the last time this happened was in 1986, which led to the dissolution of parliament and its suspension for six years.

 

The political situation has deteriorated to a point were either the government will resign, the parliament dissolved or both happening at the same time. As this is only a few months after the previous parliament was dissolved to avoid a grilling of the prime minister, it is unlikely dissolving parliament and immediately calling for an election would resolve what is now a chronic problem. This is because the same parliamentary make-up is expected to be re-elected.

 

Suspending the constitution after dissolving parliament is a strong possibility. During this time, new electoral borders are likely to be drawn to avoid a re-election of the same political make-up. However, a suspension of the constitution may lead to an increase in the risk of civil unrest, including demonstrations. This may also impact on the pace of the economic reforms.

 

The overall climate of political uncertainty contributes to increasing pressures on the speed of economic reforms as well as increasing the risk of civil unrest if a dramatic solution to the crisis is found speedily.