Bahraini MPs in call to sack minister
Manama, May 22, 2014
Bahraini MPs have launched a petition calling for Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi to be sacked.
It follows a row in parliament on Tuesday between MPs and Dr Al Balooshi, whose ministry has come under fire over alleged violations in nurseries, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The petition, which is being spearheaded by MP Adel Al Asoomi, had been signed by 15 of the country's 40 MPs when it was announced during a press conference yesterday (May 21).
MP Dr Jamal Saleh, who headed an inquiry into conditions at Bahrain's nurseries, told journalists that parliament's relationship with the minster was beyond repair.
"Dr Al Balooshi said in parliament that she was not there to debate or discuss anything - and that for 10 years everyone knew who she was," he told a press conference yesterday.
"For that we have launched a petition against her stay in office. Fifteen MPs have signed and more are expected before we send it to His Majesty King Hamad by next Thursday."
The parliamentary inquiry into nursery conditions was launched after horrific abuse was exposed at one nursery where children were tied to chairs, were not allowed to drink water and came home with bruises last November.
The probe concluded there was a lack of supervision by the Social Development Ministry, with only three people employed in its nursery inspection section - including two trainees - and instead of being visited six times a year they were monitored just once every 12 months.
It came up with a raft of recommendations including an investigation of Dr Al Balooshi and other senior officials, who were accused of failing to share information on violations between 2009 and last November.
MPs were supposed to vote on the recommendations on Tuesday, but the session finished early when they stormed out after exchanging insults with the minister.
Before walking out MPs claimed there had been a cover-up and said they were presented 25 "false" inspection certificates by the ministry, since some were dated on Fridays and Saturdays when schools were closed.
However, Dr Al Balooshi denied the allegation.
"There were 21 children below the age of three who suffered ill treatment at nurseries and their parents were worried, so they contacted the ministry for five consecutive days without anyone noticing the issue," claimed Dr Saleh.
MP Salman Al Shaikh, who is backing the petition, said the minister could also face a vote of no confidence before parliament's four-year term concludes by the end of next month.
"Besides the petition, we will use our powers to question her and even take a vote of no confidence before the end of parliament's four-year term, if possible," he added.
However, presidents of three parliamentary blocs representing 13 MPs - Al Asala, Al Menbar and National Independent - have offered their support to Dr Al Balooshi.
In a joint statement yesterday, the three blocs accused other MPs of causing chaos during Tuesday's session to distort the truth.
They urged MPs to focus on recommendations to improve nurseries, instead of targeting the minister. - TradeArabia News Service