Kuwait’s cabinet members resign amid dispute with Parliament

Move comes days after legislators submitted a motion asking to question the premier over issues including the makeup of the cabinet.

Kuwaiti PM Sheikh Sabah was due to be questioned at a parliamentary session on January 19 [Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP]
Kuwaiti PM Sheikh Sabah was due to be questioned at a parliamentary session on January 19 [Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP]

Kuwaiti cabinet handed its resignations to Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, only a month after the government was formed and just days after legislators submitted a motion asking to question the premier over issues including the cabinet’s makeup.

Tuesday’s resignation of the cabinet – formed on December 14 – was expected after the move in Parliament earlier this month that posed the first political challenge for the new emir as the country faces its worst economic crisis in decades.

The prime minister had been due to be questioned at a parliamentary session on January 19.

Sheikh Sabah must submit the resignations to the OPEC member state’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, for approval, with three leading Kuwaiti newspapers reporting he was expected to do so.

Kuwait’s Government Communications Office (CGC) said the government submitted its resignation “in light of developments in the relationship between the National Assembly and the government, and what the national interest may warrant”, but did not elaborate.

Translation: Today, his Highness Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Prime Minister, received at the Seif Palace His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah … where he raised to his Highness the resignation of all of cabinet’s members.

The motion to question Sheikh Sabah, who has been prime minister since late 2019, was submitted by three MPs on January 5 in the first regular session of a new assembly in which the opposition made gains after two-thirds of legislators lost seats in legislative polls last year.

More than 30 other MPs supported the request to question him on issues including forming a cabinet “not reflective” of poll results and allegations of government “interference” in electing the Speaker and members of parliamentary committees, according to the motion seen by Reuters news agency.

Kuwait has the most open political system in the Gulf region, with a parliament wielding power to pass legislation and question ministers, although senior posts are occupied by ruling family members.

Frequent rows and deadlocks between cabinet and Parliament have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of Parliament, hampering investment and economic and fiscal reform.

The latest standoff complicates government efforts to tackle a severe liquidity crunch caused by low oil prices and COVID-19 by pushing through a debt law that has faced legislative gridlock.

The emir has the final say in state matters and the succession of Sheikh Nawaf last September following the death of his brother had raised hopes of a detente between the ruling family and their critics in parliament.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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