Kuwait dissolves parliament amid row with government

By: AFP
Published: 07:43 PM, 22 Jun, 2022
Kuwait dissolves parliament amid row with government
Caption: Kuwait dissolves parliament amid row with government.
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Kuwait's crown prince announced Wednesday the dissolution of parliament and called for new elections amid escalating disputes between the legislative assembly and cabinet.

The move came as 21 opposition MPs have been on strike for eight days in the parliament headquarters over the delaying of legislative sessions and the failure to form a new government.

The cabinet, the fourth to be formed in two years, resigned in April, three months after it was sworn in, but continued to act in a caretaker capacity. 

"It is in the nation's interest that I seek the dissolution of the National Assembly," said Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah in a televised address.

"I urge the Kuwaiti people to elect a new house that can bear the great responsibility of maintaining state stability," he continued in the address given on behalf of Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

The 84-year-old emir had delegated some of his constitutional responsibilities to the crown prince last year.

A royal decree on the dissolution of parliament will be issued and a call for new elections will be made in the next few months, Sheikh Meshal added, without specifying the exact date.

Oil-rich Kuwait has been shaken by disputes between lawmakers and successive governments dominated by the ruling Al-Sabah family for more than a decade, with parliaments and cabinets dissolved several times.

Kuwait is the only Gulf Arab state with a fully elected parliament, which enjoys wide legislative powers and can vote ministers out of office.

In February, the country's interior and defence ministers resigned in protest over the manner of parliamentary questioning of other ministers.

Parliament had questioned Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed Al-Sabah -- a member of the royal family -- over corruption claims and alleged misuse of public funds.

The opposition and its allies won nearly half of parliament's 50 seats in the elections in 2020.

The polls were the first since Sheikh Nawaf took power following the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah.

In recent years, there have been mounting calls for reform in Kuwait, where expatriate residents make up 70 percent of the 4.8 million population.

Kuwait targets dozens of media outlets amid political tensions

Kuwait announced Wednesday the withdrawal of licences and legal action against dozens of media outlets amid political tensions that saw the country's parliament dissolved.

"The licences of 90 online news sites have been withdrawn and 73 media outlets have been referred to the state prosecution over the past two weeks due to violations of the law," the information ministry said.

The outlets were targeted for alleged violations including "spreading false news", an official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to comment on the subject.

Also Wednesday, Kuwait's crown prince said that parliament would be dissolved and called for new elections within months as disputes escalate between the legislature and cabinet.

Kuwait enjoys relative press freedom compared to other Arab countries, with around 530 licensed news websites, but has seen occasional media crackdowns.

The latest move aims to "prevent the violation of laws regulating (the media) or degeneration into media chaos", the information ministry said on Twitter.

Kuwait has been shaken by disputes between lawmakers and successive governments dominated by the ruling Al-Sabah family for more than a decade, with parliaments and cabinets frequently dissolved.

Wednesday's political moves came as 21 opposition MPs were on strike in the parliament headquarters over delays to legislative sessions and the failure to form a new government.

The cabinet, the fourth to be formed in two years, resigned in April, three months after it was sworn in, but has continued to act in a caretaker capacity.

The oil-rich emirate is the only Gulf Arab state with a fully elected parliament, which enjoys wide legislative powers and can vote ministers out of office.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.