Kuwaiti member of the royal family faces sports ban

Under Kuwaiti law, the minister will automatically be dismissed if the motion is approved

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Opposition lawmakers in Kuwait on Tuesday filed for the information and youth minister to face a confidence vote after blaming him for causing a 15-month international sports ban.

The move came after a marathon 10-hour questioning session in parliament of Shaikh Salman Humoud Al Sabah, a member of the ruling family, for also failing to lift the ban.

The confidence vote will take place on February 8, parliament speaker Marzouk Al Ganem said.

To pass, the motion needs the support of 25 lawmakers in the 50-member elected parliament. Cabinet ministers are not allowed to vote.

Under Kuwaiti law, the minister will automatically be dismissed if the motion is approved.

Shaikh Salman has denied the charges, and accused Kuwaitis who hold senior positions in international sport organizations of orchestrating the Gulf state’s suspension.

World football’s governing body FIFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and several international federations suspended Kuwait in October 2015, for the second time since 2010, over alleged government meddling in sports.

Three parliamentarians who questioned the minister on Tuesday — Waleed Al Tabtabai, Al Humaidi Al Subaie and Abdul Wahab Al Babtain — claimed he had failed to take steps to satisfy conditions to lift the ban.

Al Babtain said the international suspension came after Kuwaiti authorities violated the Olympic Charter.

“The minister has misled the Kuwaiti people ... He has violated international [sports] laws and agreements,” triggering the ban, he said during the debate.

The lawmakers also accused Shaikh Salman of committing administrative and financial infractions in the two ministries he heads.

Last month, FIFA and International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a request by the minister and Kuwait’s public sports authority to lift the ban temporarily while it amended controversial laws.

IOC has demanded Kuwait amend its sports laws and immediately reinstate the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee, which was dissolved in August.

It has also urged the emirate to withdraw all cases it has filed in Swiss courts against international sports bodies claiming the suspension was illegal.

But on Tuesday, the minister said Kuwait would not withdraw the cases, in which the government is demanding $1 billion in damages from IOC and FIFA over the ban.

As a result of the suspension, Kuwait was barred in early January from taking part in qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup.

Kuwait has already missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

Analysts say the crisis was partly caused by a political struggle involving senior ruling family members and politicians.

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