Kuwait says coup-plot clip ‘tampered with’

Prime minister’s reported statement to legislators at parliament session stirs more controversy over videotape.

Since 2006 Kuwait has been rocked by disputes between Al Sabah-controlled government and MPs [AFP]

Kuwait’s prime minister has told legislators that a videotape allegedly showing former senior officials plotting a coup was “tampered with”, stirring more controversy in the Gulf Arab state.

Local media have said the former officials in the videotape include a senior member of the ruling family, without giving details.

Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah, prime minister, “showed reports by specialised foreign sides affirming without doubt that the audio recordings and the videotapes which they examined had been tampered with and do not represent genuine and reliable copies”, Marzouk al-Ghanem, parliament speaker, said on Tuesday after a secret session.

The reports also indicate that “parts of the audio recordings [on the videotape] had been removed”, Ghanem said in a statement after a three-hour debate that was demanded by Sheikh Jaber and 15 MPs.

Ghanem said the videotapes were shown to MPs during the secret session and that parts of them were unclear.

The government informed parliament that it will hand over all the tapes and related documents to the public prosecution, which is currently conducting an investigation, he said.

Parliament rejected a proposal to form an investigative panel into the videotape with a landslide majority of 50 members against seven, the speaker said.

Abdulhameed Dashti, a pro-government MP, said the tape is “fake”, while opposition MP Riyadh al-Adasani insisted it is real and “very serious”.

Hamdan al-Azemi, an Islamist MP, said the issue of the videotape is a reflection of “an internal struggle between senior members of the Al Sabah ruling family”.

“The infighting is for governance and money … We cannot accept what is happening and most of the problems are orchestrated … My message to the regime [is] the Kuwaiti people are tired and there must be a solution,” Azemi said.

The attorney general on Thursday ordered a news blackout on the controversial videotape, saying the investigation should be confidential.

Last week, Kuwait’s royal court appealed for calm and urged the public “to avoid debating the issue and leave it to the public prosecution to take the necessary measures”.

The public prosecution questioned Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah, a senior ruling family member and former minister, on April 7 for five hours about the tape, which he said he had handed over to Kuwait’s leaders.

Sheikh Ahmad, who quit his ministerial post in 2011 during a dispute, said he told the prosecutor the videotape deals with financial and political matters as well as the ruling family and regional issues, without providing further details.

The Al Sabahs have ruled Kuwait for more than 250 years. But since 2006, Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political disputes between the Sabah-controlled government and MPs, and occasionally between members of the ruling family.

About a dozen governments have been formed and parliament has been dissolved on six occasions.

Since parliamentary elections last July, when pro-government candidates won a majority after an opposition boycott, Kuwait’s political scene has been relatively calm.

Source: AFP