KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Ten Kuwaiti opposition lawmakers on Tuesday filed a motion of “non-cooperation” with the prime minister in a bid to oust him from office, Islamist MP Faisal al-Muslim told reporters.
The motion was filed following a marathon eight-hour questioning of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah over allegations of breaching the constitution and suppressing freedoms.
The grilling was held behind closed doors on a request by the government which was approved by the 50-seat parliament.
Voting on the motion will take place on January 5, parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi announced after the session.
To pass, the motion requires the support of 25 elected MPs as cabinet ministers are banned from voting on such issues.
If passed, it will be referred to the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state who will either sack the prime minister or dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.
The request to quiz the premier was filed by MPs Mussallam al-Barrak, Jamaan al-Harbash and Saleh al-Mulla who represent opposition liberal, Islamist and nationalist groups and are backed by at least 17 other deputies.
The move came after elite Kuwaiti forces used batons to beat up MPs and citizens at a public rally on December 8, injuring at least four lawmakers and a dozen people.
Opposition MPs also claim the government was plotting to amend the constitution to cut on public freedoms.
The session was held amid heightened security measures as hundreds of police and special forces controlled all roads leading to the parliament building in Kuwait City.
Opposition MPs strongly protested, saying such measures violated the constitution which forbids any forces from coming close to parliament without the speaker’s permission.
About 200 Kuwaitis gathered outside parliament in support of the opposition, and were joined by around 500 others who had been allowed inside until the session turned secret.
They carried placards supporting the grilling and calling for an open debate. They were prevented by police from gathering in a square just opposite parliament and had to assemble just behind the huge complex.
It was the second time that Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the Gulf state ruler, has faced a grilling in parliament.
In December last year, he was questioned over corruption charges and survived a non-cooperation vote.
OPEC member Kuwait was the first Arab state in the Gulf to embrace parliamentary democracy in 1962, but the system has encountered major difficulties in the past five years after Sheikh Nasser’s appointment.
During this period, the emirate has been rocked by a series of political crises that led the ruler to dissolve parliament three times, while the cabinet has resigned five times.
Kuwait has 16 cabinet ministers, including 15 who are unelected. They automatically become members of parliament and have similar voting rights as elected MPs.
The emirate sits on 10 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves and pumps 2.3 million barrels per day. It has a native population of 1.1 million besides 2.45 million foreign residents.