x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Kuwaiti government resigns

Kuwait's government resigns over demands by MPs to interrogate the PM but parliament's speaker is yet to be informed.

The Kuwaiti MPs Walid al Tabtabai, left, and Abdullah al Barghash, right, attends a parliament session at the national assembly in Kuwait City on Nov 25 2008.
The Kuwaiti MPs Walid al Tabtabai, left, and Abdullah al Barghash, right, attends a parliament session at the national assembly in Kuwait City on Nov 25 2008.

KUWAIT // Kuwait's government resigned today to avert a questioning of the prime minister over the visit of an Iranian Shiite cleric, accused of insulting Sunni Islam, several lawmakers said. However, Kuwait's parliament speaker, Jassim al Kharafi, said today he had not been officially informed that the parliament had tendered its resignation amid a stand-off with the house. "Until this morning I was not informed of any measures by the emir, and if this should be an indication, it would be that the emir is studying and evaluating what happened," Mr Kharafi said. Earlier, several deputies said that the government has tendered its resignation today. Several deputies said it was unclear whether Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, who has the last say in politics, had accepted the resignation. The impasse jeopardises crucial economic reforms such as a plan to set up a financial regulator and recent measures to tackle the impact of the global financial crisis by pumping cash into the Arab world's second-largest bourse hit by a slide. The uncertainty over the political crisis weighed on the Gulf state's stock market which briefly touched red territory after news of the resignation. The government had earlier walked out of a parliamentary session to avoid the request by three deputies to question Sheikh Nasser al Mohammad al Sabah. The MPs accuse Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the emir, of allowing a prominent Iranian Shiite cleric to enter Kuwait despite a legal ban. They have also accused him of failing to "perform his constitutional duties ... and that it was time that Kuwait had a premier capable of running the state and achieving the wishes of the people". And they have alleged that corruption and squandering of public funds had rapidly increased under the leadership of Sheikh Nasser, who is a senior member of the ruling family. "We heard the news that the government has resigned," the MP Naser al Sana told reporters in parliament. Another MP, Jamaan al-Harbash, said the same. The speaker Jassim al-Kharafi said parliament would not meet tomorrow because the government had refused to attend. Without the government in attendance, parliament cannot decide whether to go ahead with plans to question Sheikh Nasser. Some deputies said the walkout could mean the ruler might disband parliament for the second time this year. The emir dissolved the house in March to end a political stand-off and called new elections in May. "The walkout of the government was a surprise to everyone. It is an indication that parliament might get dissolved," the deputy Abdullah Rai al Fahma said. Kuwait's emir or his predecessors have reshuffled governments or dissolved parliament five times since 1976 to head off such crises in the Opec member. The last assembly dedicated much time to questioning ministers and there have been multiple changes in the government line-up during the past two years as a number of ministers have stepped down under parliamentary pressure. Changes of the oil minister usually do not have an impact on the energy policy of the world's seventh-largest oil exporter. *Reuters