x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Kuwait PM faces grilling over clashes

Kuwait's prime minister faces grilling behind closed doors amid talk of a no-confidence motion to force his resignation.

KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait's prime minister faced a rare grilling from parliament members Tuesday in a closed-door session called after clashes earlier this month between riot police and opposition lawmakers.

Anti-government deputies said they hoped to bring a no-confidence vote to force the resignation of Prime Minister Sheik Nasser al Mohammed al Sabah.

But government officials did not appear worried. They claim the opposition bloc cannot secure a majority in the 50-seat chamber to unseat the premier, who is a nephew of Kuwait's ruler.

"I am ready to be questioned and I want the debate now," Sheik Nasser told parliament speaker Jassem al Khorafi as the session opened.

The parliament questioning was demanded after security forces clashed with opposition lawmakers and their supporters at a December 8 rally. Kuwaiti officials say the crowd taunted police and did not have a permit for a rally.

The prime minister, who took the post in 2006, survived a confidence vote a year ago after allegations of misuse of public funds.

But opposition groups have not eased their pressure on the government, which they accuse of trying to roll back political freedoms and clamp down on dissenting voices.

Security forces were on high alert around the parliament as the questioning session got under way.