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Kuwait ruler expected to dissolve parliament

The Emir of Kuwait will dissolve parliament in order to prevent the prime minister from being questioned, predict MPs.

Kuwait's National Assembly Secretary General Allam al-Kandari, right, holds a request by Kuwaiti MP Faisal al-Muslim to quiz the prime minister, on March 1 2009.
Kuwait's National Assembly Secretary General Allam al-Kandari, right, holds a request by Kuwaiti MP Faisal al-Muslim to quiz the prime minister, on March 1 2009.

KUWAIT // Kuwait's ruler could move to dissolve parliament in the leading oil exporter in the coming days to avoid deputies questioning the royal prime minister, parliamentary sources said today. The political paralysis could delay approval of key legislation and economic reforms that investors hope will help Kuwait through the financial crisis. The bourse closed higher for a second day on speculation about the dispute. Parliament is due to discuss a 1.5 billion dinars (US$5.09 billion) economic rescue package on March 17, the day the body hopes to question the prime minister, Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, who is a nephew of the emir.

"We have information that the parliament will be dissolved within days," parliament deputy Saadoun Hammad al-Otaibi said. Another deputy who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was a "high possibility" of such a move. Frequent cabinet changes usually do not affect the oil policies of Opec-member Kuwait, the world's seventh-largest oil exporter, which are set by a high state energy council. Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera said earlier that Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, would issue a decree to dissolve parliament within two days and hold elections within two months. There was no confirmation of the report on state media and officials could not be reached for comment.

A move to question the prime minister led to the resignation of the previous cabinet in November. But the Emir then reappointed the same prime minister to form a new government in the latest episode of a long-running tug-of-war between parliament and the royal family that has dogged Kuwait ? with the most democratic political culture in the Gulf Arab region ? for years. The royal family views questioning the prime minister as a red line in its uneasy relationship with the elected body.

A deputy provoked the crisis with a request to question the prime minister over alleged financial irregularities at his office. Parliament has the authority to question ministers and approve or reject government budgets and bills. * Reuters