KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait’s parliament will hold a vote of no-confidence on the interior minister next week after he was quizzed on Tuesday over accusations that include spying on MPs and squandering public funds.
The vote on Sheikh Jaber Khaled al-Sabah, called at the demand of 10 opposition MPs, will take place on July 1, parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi announced after lawmakers had grilled the minister.
To pass, the no-confidence motion requires 25 votes, or a simple majority of elected MPs who are not members of the cabinet. Kuwait parliament has 50 elected MPs, only one of which is a minister.
The minister would be automatically dismissed if the motion is approved, something that has never happened in Kuwait’s 47 years of democracy.
Veteran opposition lawmaker and three-time former speaker Ahmad al-Saadun was among the 10 MPs who signed the confidence motion. He later said that they have the required number to oust the minister.
The three-MP Development and Reform Bloc called on the minister to step down because “he failed to defend himself against the accusations.”
During the grilling, MP Mussallam al-Barrak accused Sheikh Jaber, a member of the ruling family, of ordering the installation of a highly advanced camera just outside parliament in an attempt to spy on lawmakers.
Barrak, from the nationalist opposition Popular Action Bloc, alleged that the camera was also installed to monitor public rallies outside the parliament building.
“The camera is so highly advanced that it can monitor the offices of MPs in the parliament building,” Barrak claimed.
In addition, he accused the minister of squandering public funds by awarding a 19-million-dollar contract to a local private company in violation of local laws. He said the contract involved exaggerated cost.
Barrak also denounced Sheikh Jaber for allegedly failing to safeguard the election process in the emirate and not applying the law against claims of vote-buying during the May 16 general polls.
Sheikh Jaber said the camera and many similar ones are installed in various places for public security and not for spying.
“The cameras are not for spying but for the protection of the public,” the minister said in his response to the charges.
The minister denied that he was involved in any financial wrongdoing, saying he referred a controversial contract to the public prosecutor for a probe even before the grilling request was filed earlier this month.
It was the first questioning of a minister by the new parliament elected only in May.
Oil-rich Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises in the past three years that forced five governments to resign and saw three parliaments dissolved.