New parliament, old disputes: Kuwait PM defends actions over alleged graft

Disputes reveal abuses

KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah Wednesday defended his government's actions on two alleged corruption scandals during a public questioning in parliament.
The questioning was brought by Shiite MP Saleh Ashour, a staunch supporter of former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who was forced to resign in November over the two alleged scandals.
The first graft case was referred to the attorney general who has been investigating the allegations for the past six months, while the cabinet asked the Audit Bureau to probe the second scandal, the premier told parliament.
Two weeks ago, the parliament formed two committees to probe the alleged corruption scandals.
In the first case, about $350 million were allegedly deposited in bank accounts of 12 former MPs and Ashour himself. The opposition charged the funds were bribes to buy their votes on crucial issues.
The other corruption case alleges that the former premier transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from public funds into private accounts he held abroad.
The previous government has denied any wrongdoing, saying Sheikh Nasser had repaid all the sums to the state treasury.
Ashour insisted the current prime minister has failed to apply the law on the two corruption scandals since coming to power about four months ago.
Ashour also blamed the premier for the government failure to resolve the decades-old problem of over 100,000 stateless people who are denied basic rights.