Kuwait’s new emir asks cabinet to stay on after gov’t resignation

USA & World

Kuwait’s new emir asks cabinet to stay on after gov’t resignation

Kuwait’s new emir has asked the state’s cabinet to carry on its duties and prepare for parliamentary elections due this year after the prime minister handed in his government’s resignation on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah met new Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who assumed power last Wednesday, and as per the country’s constitution “submitted his resignation and that of his government to ensure ministerial responsibilities are held by those who enjoy the emir’s confidence”, Kuwait’s state-run news agency KUNA reported.

It said Sheikh Nawaf expressed his full confidence in the current cabinet, which was formed last December.

Cabinet resignations in Kuwait happen frequently when elected legislators are set to question or submit a no-confidence vote against senior government officials.

Kuwait has the most open political system in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with a Parliament that has the power to pass legislation and question ministers.

The move may signal Sheikh Nawaf’s desire to follow the political path charted by his predecessor and also allow Kuwait to avoid the difficulties of forming a new government ahead of elections, when the cabinet will have to dissolve itself anyway.

Despite Sheikh Nawaf’s high praise for the current cabinet, last month 10 lawmakers submitted a no-confidence motion against Kuwait’s deputy prime minister and interior minister amid growing dissatisfaction over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and budgetary problems.

Kuwait’s parliament speaker said on Tuesday that the last session of the parliament will be held on October 8.

Sheikh Nawaf, 83, took the helm of the US-allied OPEC member state following the death of his brother Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad last Tuesday aged 91.

Kuwaitis have been waiting for Sheikh Nawaf to name a crown prince to help guide state affairs at a time when low oil prices and COVID-19 have hit state finances against the backdrop of continued tensions between Kuwait’s larger neighbours Saudi Arabia and Iran.

His choice must be approved by parliament.