The departure of Kuwait’s government has placed the country’s parliament on pause
Kuwait–Kuwaiti Parliament Speaker Marzouq al-recent Ghanim’s words have raised worries in the country, especially as laws are due to be examined and enacted before the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
Kuwait’s senior legislator said on Tuesday that the government’s resignation, which is pending the emir’s permission, has put parliament on hold. He said that the government would not attend parliament until the issue was settled. “The government has sent me an apology letter for its reluctance to attend parliament sessions,” Ghanim said, adding that he had no idea if Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah would accept the cabinet’s resignation.
Only a “caretaker government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah” will be permitted to reopen Parliament, according to Ghanim. Kuwait’s administration handed in its resignation to Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah earlier this month, but the country’s emir will have the last word.
The action occurred only a day before a legislative vote on a letter of non-cooperation issued by ten MPs against the premier after he was accused of “unconstitutional” acts, including corruption. For more than a decade, oil-rich Kuwait has been shook by disagreements between legislators and successive administrations headed by the ruling Al-Sabah family, with parliaments and ministries disbanded many times.
According to reliable political sources, the country’s leadership, led by the emir and Crown Prince, is presently weighing alternatives for resolving the issue before announcing the government’s resignation. According to the same sources, Kuwait’s leadership recognizes the need for a fresh strategy, since accepting the government’s resignation and forming a new one is worthless without addressing the root reasons of the issue.
Opposition MPs were outraged by Ghanim’s decision to stop parliament’s sessions, calling it illegal and accusing the administration of ignoring its commitments to pensioners. “The inability to decide on the government’s resignation implies that it still has full powers… and it bears all constitutional duties, including attending National Assembly sessions,” said politician and former MP Saleh Muhammad al-Mulla.
“Failure to call for sessions and treating the parliament as if it were a store that opens and closes on the owner’s orders is an unacceptable condition.” Mulla went on to say that this “undermines the nation’s power in terms of monitoring and regulation.” On the possibility of awarding Kuwaiti pensioners a one-time gift, the parliament speaker, however, stated that such “urgent problems” require a special session, a proposal that has already received legislative support.
Kuwait is the only Gulf Arab country with a fully elected parliament with broad legislative powers and the ability to remove ministers from office. In February, the country’s interior and defense ministries resigned in protest at how other ministers were questioned in parliament. Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, who is also a member of the royal family, was questioned by Parliament over allegations of corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
On February 16, Sheikh Ahmed survived a vote of no confidence, although Defense Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah called the protracted questioning a “abuse” of authority. “Interrogations are a fundamental right… but parliamentary procedures are preventing us from meeting the ambitions of the Kuwaiti people,” he said at the time, according to Kuwaiti media. After its predecessor resigned in November amid political gridlock, the country’s most recent administration, the fourth in two years, was sworn in in December.