Kuwait government submits resignation

Kuwaiti Emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Sabah must approve the request before a new government is formed

epa08920141 General view of a parliament session in Kuwait's parliament in Kuwait city, Kuwait, on 05 January 2021.  EPA/Noufal Ibrahim

Kuwait’s newly appointed government resigned on Tuesday just over a month after the Cabinet was formed.

“The Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah, received today the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Sabah and other ministers where they handed the resignation of the government to him,” the government’s communication office said on Twitter.

“They are now placed at the disposal of Sheikh Sabah,” said the statement.

Politicians filed a motion requesting to question the prime minister before they submitted their resignation.

The motion to question Sheikh Sabah, who has been premier since late 2019, was submitted by three MPs on January 5, during the first regular session of a new assembly.

More than 30 other MPs supported the request to question him on issues including forming a cabinet "not reflective" of poll results and allegations of government "interference" in electing the speaker and members of parliamentary committees, according to the motion seen by Reuters.

The premier must now submit the resignation to the Kuwaiti Emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Sabah for approval before a new government is formed.

The emir has the final say in state matters and the succession of Sheikh Nawaf last September following the death of his brother, Sheikh Sabah, had raised hopes of a detente between the ruling family and their critics in parliament.

Bader Al Saif, Assistant Professor of History at Kuwait University, said the resignation was expected.

"Ministers put their resignation forward to the prime minister paving the way for the government’s resignation. Kuwait thrives on being in crisis mode with no end to executive-legislature tensions," Mr Al Saif said.

Government resignation is common in Kuwait.

Frequent rows and deadlocks between Cabinet and the National Assembly, the Gulf region's oldest and most outspoken, led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of Parliament, affecting investment and economic and fiscal reform in the cradle-to-grave welfare state.

Last month, Sheikh Nawaf Al Sahab approved a new Cabinet that included new ministers of oil and finance after the previous government resigned following parliamentary elections in early December.

Opposition and tribal candidates made gains in the legislative vote, reflecting a desire for change among voters.

Liberals fared poorly and many leading pro-government legislators lost their seats.

The latest standoff comes as the government attempts to tackle a severe liquidity crunch caused by low oil prices and Covid-19 by pushing through a debt law that has faced legislative gridlock.