Kuwait's Emir dissolves parliament and suspends some constitutional articles

Since elections on April 4, tension between elected parliament and appointed Prime Minister has stalled government formation

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Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah has issued a decree dissolving parliament and suspending some of the articles of the constitution for “a period not exceeding four years”, after weeks of political tension following recent elections.

“We ordered the dissolution of the National Assembly and the suspension of some articles of the constitution for a period not exceeding four years,” the Emir said in a televised speech on Friday evening.

“The recent turmoil in the Kuwaiti political scene has reached a stage where we cannot remain silent, so we must take all necessary measures to achieve the best interest of country and its people.”

The Gulf country held its fourth elections in as many years last month, with 39 of the 46 members from the previous parliament retaining their seats.

During the period of suspension of the articles of the constitution, all aspects of the democratic process will be studied, the Emir said.

The powers of the National Assembly will be assumed by the Emir and the country's cabinet, state TV reported.

“Kuwait has been through some hard times lately … which leaves no room for hesitation or delay in making the difficult decision to save the country and secure its highest interests,” the Emir added.

Under Kuwait’s constitution, a new government must be formed within two weeks of an election. Since elections on April 4, tension between the elected parliament and appointed Prime Minister has stalled such a formation.

Sheikh Meshal appointed Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al Ahmad Al Sabah as Prime Minister on April 15 and asked him to form a new government.

Sheikh Meshal, who succeeded his half-brother in December, dissolved the last parliament after a legislator used language considered unconstitutional and parliament refused to censure him.

After the speech, Kuwaiti analyst Bader Al Saif described the step as historic.

“The Emir gave quite a detailed speech laying out his view of Kuwait’s ‘negative reality’ – unignorable reality given Kuwait’s chronic decline across various domains,” Mr Al Saif wrote on X.

“He laid blame on the legislative and executive authorities, listing in detail what he deems the violations of both.”

Kuwait has been gripped by domestic political disputes for years. The overhaul of the country's welfare system has been a major point of contention and has prevented the government from taking on debt.

That has left it with little to pay bloated public sector salaries, despite generating great wealth from its oil reserves.

Updated: May 11, 2024, 7:04 AM