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Kuwait parliament accepts MP resignations in graft row

By AFP - May 15,2014 - Last updated at May 15,2014

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s parliament on Thursday accepted the resignations of five MPs who quit because the pro-government chamber refused to question the prime minister about allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Speaker Marzouk Al Ghanem declared the five seats vacant after separate votes on each of the MPs following a lengthy debate. An overwhelming majority of MPs and Cabinet ministers approved the resignations.

The five, who include the only woman in the 50-seat parliament, were not present. Elections for their replacements must now be held within 60 days.

Opposition MPs Riyadh Al Adasani, Abdulkarim Al Kundari and Hussein Al Mutairi quit two weeks ago after parliament rejected their demand to question Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, over allegations he gave cash handouts to lawmakers.

Four days later, Ali Al Rashed, a former parliament speaker, and Safa Al Hashem resigned, saying the situation in the Gulf state had reached a “deadlock”.

During Thursday’s debate, several MPs strongly objected to the parliament’s unprecedented action of rejecting a grilling for the premier.

“What happened was a breach of the constitution and an attempt to silence MPs,” Islamist member Hamdan Al Azemi told the house.

This is the first mass resignation by Kuwaiti MPs since 1967 when several quit in protest at allegations of election rigging. Kuwait is the first country in the Gulf Arab region to have a constitution and elected parliament.

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