Kuwait government submits resignation after tension with parliament

MPs last week offered to withdraw controversial loan relief bill that has led to political deadlock

Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City, US, September 22, 2022. EPA
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Kuwait’s government under Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah submitted its resignation on Monday after weeks of tension with the country’s national assembly over requests to question two cabinet ministers.

Jenan Boushehri, one of the assembly's two female MPs, formally submitted a request last week to question Cabinet Affairs Minister and former foreign minister Barak Al Shaitan in parliament, while opposition MP Mubarak Al Hajraf asked to interrogate Finance Minister Abdulwahab Al Rushaid.

"The Prime Minister has informed the cabinet of raising the government's letter of resignation to His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah," Kuwait's state news agency reported.

Kuwaiti MPs last week offered to withdraw a controversial loan relief bill that has led to deadlock with the government — provided ministers raise wages in the country in return.

The government welcomed the move but insisted on MPs withdrawing their requests to question ministers as an ultimatum.

The political impasse between the two bodies has centred on a draft bill calling on the government to take over the consumer and personal loans of Kuwaiti citizens, with an estimated value of several billion Kuwaiti dinars. The government says the move would be too expensive, costing almost $46 billion in public funds. MPs say it would cost less than $6.5 billion.

Kuwait gives its elected parliament the power to pass and block laws, question ministers and submit no-confidence motions against senior government officials.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf pardoned 37 people last week, including political figures and members of the ruling family, in a move described by both government and parliament as a step towards national reconciliation.

The move was expected to lead to “fruitful co-operation between the executive and legislative authorities, in accordance with the constitutional foundations”, the Council of Ministers said last Tuesday, a week before parliament was expected to convene again.

Updated: January 23, 2023, 10:53 PM