Middle East

Dozens in Kuwait protest against political stagnation

Dozens of Kuwaitis join marches in the capital to protest against political stagnation brought about by the government’s resignation and suspension of the parliament’s sessions.

The protesters, including some members of the parliament, known as the National Assembly, joined the gathering on Thursday outside the legislature at Al-Erada Square in Kuwait City, amid slightly heightened police and security presence.

Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation on April 5, ahead of a no-confidence vote against the prime minister in parliament, amid a lengthy political feud that has hindered fiscal reform in the Persian Gulf oil producer.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who took over most of the ruling emir’s duties late last year, accepted the resignation submitted by the government after more than a month on May 10.

Sheikh Sabah, a member of the ruling al-Sabah family and premier since late 2019, has faced a combative legislature as the head of successive cabinets, with opposition MPs bent on questioning him over issues, including perceived corruption.

Kuwait has given its assembly more influence than similar bodies in other Persian Gulf states, including the power to pass and block laws, question ministers and submit no-confidence motions against senior government officials.

The octogenarian emir, before delegating duties to his designated successor, also in his 80s, tried to end the impasse by pardoning dissidents in an amnesty sought by opposition lawmakers. Kuwait does not allow political parties.

Kuwaiti political analyst Nasser al-Abdali said some ruling family members were using parliament to push their agenda as they jostle for power, worsening hostilities.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has taken palliative measures to temporarily boost finances while more structural reforms remain deadlocked, including the debt law.

While higher oil prices have offered some relief, Kuwait has been unable to issue international debt since 2017.

Perennial feuding has led to frequent cabinet reshuffles or dissolution of parliament holding up investment and reform.

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