January 24, 2023 government

Govt resigns as tensions boil over


KUWAIT: HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah on Monday submitted his government’s resignation to HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, blaming tense “relations with the National Assembly” for the action. The move has but effectively killed great hopes that began after the elections that the Assembly and the government will work hand in hand to turn a new page in Kuwait’s modern history, which has been marred with non-stop political crises due to disputes between the Assembly and previous governments.

The government was formed just over three months ago following the Sept 29 general elections, in which the opposition scored a landslide victory. The two sides enjoyed great relations at the start of the Assembly term in October, with a majority of MPs describing the prime minister and several ministers as “reformists”.

But the ties started to experience some turbulence after MPs began pushing for populist demands to fulfill their election campaign promises. The government accepted some of the demands but could not accept others. The breakaway point came when MPs rejected repeated government requests to postpone debating a number of populist draft legislation, which the government described as expensive.

The government wanted that the controversial draft laws, including a bill calling on the government to purchase billions of dinars of bank loans of Kuwaiti citizens, be sent back to the Assembly’s financial and economic affairs panel for more discussions. MPs eventually said they will return the draft legislation to the committee if the government pledges to raise salaries of citizens, pensions of retirees and social aid for the needy sections of the society.

The government apparently did not like the conditional offer and decided it was time to part ways with MPs. The resignation nullifies plans by lawmakers to grill two ministers on Tuesday. The Cabinet also decided to suspend a decision issued earlier that granted special extra salaries to ministers. The ‘special salary’ issue has been the focus of tensions between the Cabinet and Assembly in recent weeks.

HH the Crown Prince will decide on the fate of the resignation, but signs indicate the resignation is expected to be accepted. But it is not clear what will come next. Some commentators said HH the Amir may dissolve the Assembly or simply accept the resignation and ask the prime minister to form a new Cabinet that can cooperate with the parliament.

Only a few lawmakers commented on the developments. MP Saud Al-Asfour said the move was expected because the government was unable to cooperate with the Assembly. He also charged that the government was unable to fulfill promises it made to the Assembly. MP Saleh Ashour accused the government of running away from facing issues, adding the government should have attended Assembly sessions and proposed alternatives to ideas proposed by MPs.

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