Kuwait’s emir reappoints PM to form new cabinet

Sheikh Sabah had resigned after the parliament backed a request to question him over issues including his choice of cabinet members.

The barely one-month-old government had been acting in a caretaker role since it resigned [File: AFP]

Kuwait’s emir has issued a decree reappointing Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah as prime minister after the cabinet resigned last week in a standoff with parliament over its vote to question him on constitutional affairs, including his choice of ministers.

State news agency KUNA said on Sunday the decree by Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah also tasked Sheikh Sabah with nominating a new cabinet for approval.

The barely one-month-old government had been acting in a caretaker role since it resigned on January 13 over the confrontation with parliament.

The motion earlier this month to question Sheikh Sabah, prime minister since late 2019, was supported by 38 MPs in the 50-seat assembly.

It referred to a cabinet that did not reflect last year’s legislative elections and to government “interference” in electing the speaker and members of parliamentary committees, according to Reuters news agency.

The situation, the emir’s first big political challenge since taking power in September, has complicated efforts to tackle a severe liquidity crunch in the wealthy OPEC member state caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Frequent rows and deadlocks in the country between cabinet and the elected assembly have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament over the years.

Kuwait has the most vibrant political system among Gulf Arab states, with a fully elected parliament able to pass and block legislation, and question ministers.

However, under the constitution, the emir has extensive powers and can dissolve the legislature at the recommendation of the government.

A previous cabinet stepped down in November 2019 amid accusations of corruption and infighting, while the last cabinet was replaced in December 2020 elections which saw the opposition or allied candidates win nearly half of the parliament’s 50 seats.

The polls were the first since the new emir took office in September following the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah, at the age of 91.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies