Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf and Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal dissolved the Parliament on Wednesday and called for early general elections.
“There are dangers and crises surrounding the country from every side,” Sheikh Meshal said in a televised address to the nation.
“We need to be careful and take lessons because dangers surround us from all sides. There's overlap between the legislative and executive powers, resulting in practices that threaten national unity.
“We decided, obliged, down to the desire of the people and respecting their will and invoking the constitution, to dissolve the National Assembly as a constitutional solution and to call for general elections in accordance with the procedures, dates, and constitutional and legal controls that govern them.”
Several Kuwaiti politicians have been staging an open-ended sit-in inside the Parliament complex since last week to press the crown prince to appoint a new government after a caretaker administration resigned more than two months ago in a stand-off with Parliament.
Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah handed his Cabinet’s resignation in to Sheikh Meshal on April 5 following months of political infighting in the National Assembly.
Sheikh Nawaf, who has the constitutional power to dissolve Parliament, made a brief appearance to say that Sheikh Meshal would speak on his behalf, effectively blessing the move.
Sheikh Meshal, who was granted key constitutional powers late last year, said the domestic political scene was being “torn by disagreement and personal interests” to the detriment of the country.
He urged the Kuwaiti people to elect leaders that “could bear significant responsibility for maintaining state stability” and that would work for the hopes and aspirations of the constituents.
“And out of our keenness to strengthen popular participation, we would like to assure you that we will not interfere in the people's choices for their representatives,” Sheikh Meshal said.
The departing Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq Al Ghanim accepted the decision of Sheikh Nawaf and Sheikh Meshal.
“Based on legitimacy and the constitution and our morals as Kuwaitis, we have to rally around the political leadership in what it sees as the supreme interest of the nation and support it until we cross Kuwait to safety. May God protect Kuwait's leadership and people,” Mr Al Ghanim said on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday, Kuwait announced the withdrawal of licences as well as legal action against dozens of media outlets amid the political tension.
“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,” Reuters quoted the Information Ministry as saying.
The outlets were hit for reported breaches including “spreading false news”, an official said on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to comment on the subject.
As per Article 107 of Kuwait's Constitution, the country's National Assembly can be dissolved by the Emir via a decree.
From 1975 until 2016, 10 parliaments were dissolved by decree. The last dissolution took place in 2016 when the late Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad made the decision based on “volatile regional developments and mounting security concerns”.