Kuwait’s government resigns ahead of anticipated elections

The government in Kuwait has resigned in the past, particularly when faced with no-confidence votes and grilling of ruling family members. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 November 2019

Kuwait’s government resigns ahead of anticipated elections

  • An election is also expected for the 50-seat parliament in early 2020
  • Emir of Kuwait accepted the resignation Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah

KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti prime minister resigned on Thursday along with his cabinet amid allegations of infighting between ministers and criticism of their performance.
Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah "submitted the resignation of the cabinet to the emir... in order to allow for a cabinet reshuffle," government spokesman Tareq Al-Mazrem said.
Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah accepted his resignation, the official KUNA news agency reported.
Minister of Finance Nayef Al-Hajraf resigned last month to avoid being questioned in parliament over violating Islamic law by charging interest on loans taken by retired Kuwaitis from the state-run pension agency.
And Public Works Minister Jenan Bushehri announced her resignation following a lengthy grilling in parliament during which she came under fire for alleged mismanagement of her portfolios and poor use of public funds.
On Tuesday, parliament also grilled Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, a member of the ruling family, over similar accusations and MPs filed a no-confidence motion to oust him.
Independent MP Saleh Ashour told AFP that as well as those criticisms, disputes between ministers over the current composition of the cabinet had also triggered the resignation.
Parliament speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem told reporters Thursday that "a large group of MPs believe that the problem lies in the government team because it is not homogenous".
He however ruled out the possibility that parliament could be dissolved by the emir.
After accepting the resignation, the emir can rename the outgoing premier or appoint a new head of government to form the cabinet, the eighth since 2011.
Kuwait is the only Gulf state with a fully elected parliament that enjoys wide legislative powers and can vote ministers out of office.
The  country has been shaken by political disputes between lawmakers and the ruling family-led government for over a decade, with parliament and cabinets dissolved several times.
A demonstration held outside parliament last week over alleged rampant corruption was reminiscent of past crises that have marred political life in the country.


Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

Updated 10 December 2019

Lebanon not expecting new aid pledges at Paris meeting

  • The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new PM unraveled
  • Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29

BEIRUT/PARIS: Lebanon does not expect new aid pledges at conference which France is hosting on Wednesday to press for the quick formation of a new government that can tackle an acute financial crisis.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Lebanon to create a new government swiftly or risk the crisis worsening and threatening the country’s stability.
The economic crisis is the worst since the 1975-90 civil war: a liquidity crunch has led banks to enforce capital controls and the Lebanese pound to slump by one third.
Lebanon has also been in a political impasse since Saad Al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, prompted by protests against the ruling elite, with no agreement on a new government.
Nadim Munla, senior adviser to Hariri, who is running the government as caretaker, told Reuters the Paris meeting would probably signal a readiness to offer support once a government is formed that commits to reforms.
“They will recognize that there is a short-term problem and that if and when a government (is formed) that basically responds to the aspirations of people, most probably the international community will be ready to step in and provide support to Lebanon, or additional support,” he said.
“It is not a pledging conference.”
Lebanon won pledges of over $11 billion at a conference last year conditional on reforms that it has failed to implement. The economic crisis is rooted in years of corruption and waste that have generated one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
The political impasse returned to square one on Sunday when a tentative agreement on a new prime minister unraveled.
Hariri is now seen as the only candidate for the post.
He has said he would only lead a cabinet of specialist ministers, believing this is the way to address the economic crisis, attract aid, and satisfy protesters who have been in the streets since Oct. 17 seeking the removal of a political class blamed for corruption and misrule.
But Hezbollah and its allies including President Michel Aoun say the government must include politicians.
“Let’s see the coming few days and if there will be an agreement among the political parties on a formation ... otherwise we might take longer,” Munla said. Hariri would be willing to have politicians in cabinet but they should not be “the regular known faces of previous governments.”