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24-02-2012 - Kuwait Times

Kuwait's Oppn shortlists 28 draft legislations

In a surprising move, the Cabinet yesterday asked the Audit Bureau to examine allegations that the former prime minister transferred millions of dinars of public funds into a number of personal accounts he holds overseas.

The Cabinet took the decision at an extraordinary meeting before Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah left the country for Makkah to perform the umrah, or minor pilgrimage, and later to London for medical checkups.

The government said that the decision was taken in line with the transparent policy and as a move to ensure that it seeks cooperation with the National Assembly.

The government's move came just ahead of a plan by the opposition to propose to form two parliamentary panels to investigate the issue in addition to another corruption scandals involving former MPs.

The transfers scandal was exposed in September by opposition MP Musallam Al-Barrak who sent a series of questions to former foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah, who in October resigned over the issue.

Barrak had alleged that former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah ordered the transfer of millions of dinars of public funds into his personal overseas bank accounts and estimated the transfers at around KD 70 million.

Barrak also claimed that the transfers were made by the Central Bank through the foreign ministry. The previous government had denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the money was returned in full to the Central Bank.

Commenting on the government's decision, Barrak told reporters yesterday that the decision was unjustified and unnecessary as the issue must be investigated by the Assembly.

Barrak said that he will resend the old questions to Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah and hold him politically responsible if he did not answer them.

The lawmaker said MPs will submit a request to form probe committees into the transfers, the deposits scandal and diesel smuggling at the Assembly session on Feb 28. Barrak said that Kuwaiti ambassadors in the United States, Switzerland and Britain personally received the transfers and they will be summoned during the investigation.

Meanwhile, the head of the coordination committee of the opposition bloc MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said the committee has shortlisted 28 issues as the most important issues that will be accorded priority by the Assembly during the current term.

Harbash said the issues will be given final approval during the opposition's meeting shortly. The issues include proposing a salary for Kuwaiti housewives, early retirement for women, medical cities and unemployment benefits.

They also include anti-corruption legislations, lowering the voting age to 18, allowing servicemen to vote in addition to forming political parties.

Five opposition MPs yesterday submitted a draft law calling to allow the formation of "political bodies" or political parties by Kuwaiti citizens. The draft law stipulates guidelines to regulate the operation of the political parties and totally bans forming parties on sectarian or racial basis, and should not be in military or paramilitary forms.

In another development, newly-elected MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji asked the interior minister about the number of Iranians living in Kuwait and their sponsors. He demanded the number of Iranians in accordance with the type of residence they have including employees in the government and the private sector.

 

Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights