Aseeri denies resigning over old tweets as MPs defend her

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Kuwait - Yasmine El Tohamy - Islamist, opposition lawmakers keep up pressure on minister

KUWAIT: Newly appointed Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Ghadeer Aseeri denied yesterday rumors claiming that she had resigned from the Cabinet on the back of a campaign against her inclusion in the government. Aseeri, one of seven new faces in the Cabinet formed on Tuesday, has been the target of a campaign mainly by Islamist MPs and activists over her support of Shiite-led protests in Bahrain and her rejection of sending Gulf troops to back the Manama government.

But the minister yesterday said she held meetings with the ministry’s undersecretary and assistant undersecretaries to review ministerial plans on the first day of taking office, denying that she was contemplating quitting the Cabinet. Aseeri, a Shiite academic, had expressed her views backing the Bahraini protests publicly mainly on her Twitter account, which led several MPs to question what would be her position now.

Islamist opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair on Tuesday threatened he will grill the prime minister if he did not fire Aseeri before she takes oath in the Assembly next week. But Shiite MPs yesterday came strongly to Aseeri’s defense, insisting that the minister must not be criticized on positions taken in the past. MP Saleh Ashour said that it is not allowed to hold a minister to account for statements or positions taken before they were appointed in the government.

He said that any pressure on Aseeri to resign will be faced with a decisive political position, adding that he will not accept what he called “political terrorism”. MP Khaled Al-Shatti insisted that the campaign against Aseeri was politically motivated by some “religious radicals”. MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl also said it was not allowed to pressurize the minister to resign over a tweet she wrote in 2011.

But Islamist opposition MP Mohammad Hayef asked HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah about the standards and parameters adopted in the selection of Cabinet members. He asked the premier if he had asked for a security report on all those appointed in the Cabinet.
Opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said he totally supports calls for Aseeri to quit the Cabinet because NGOs will be under her, adding that he will take a position on this issue. The lawmaker said he will continue to follow up on major corruption cases like embezzlement, corruption by the former head of the pension agency, alleged bribes paid to some MPs and corruption in the ports fund. He called on the premier to open the files of MPs in order to find out who has taken money from the government. Meanwhile, MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari called for allocating two hours from the Assembly session to debate what he called traffic chaos that has killed many people, in order to find efficient solutions.

By B Izzak

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