Kuwait emir suspends parliament sessions for a month

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree on Wednesday, suspending parliament’s sessions for one month as of Feb. 18, state news agency KUNA said.

The move follows a standoff between the elected assembly and the appointed government that led the cabinet to resign last month. The emir, facing his first big political challenge since assuming power in September, had reappointed Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah to nominate a new cabinet.

KUNA gave no further details in the statement, which was also carried on the cabinet Twitter account.

The emir has final say in state matters.

Last month’s government resignation came after more than 30 MPs in the 50-seat assembly supported a motion to question Sheikh Sabah, premier since late 2019, on various issues, including his choice of ministers.

Since being reappointed on Jan. 24, Sheikh Sabah has been holding consultations with parliamentary blocs ahead of nominating a new cabinet for the emir to approve and has asked for time to select ministers, irritating some parliamentarians.

The political tension complicates efforts to tackle a severe liquidity crunch in the wealthy OPEC member state caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Frequent rows and deadlocks between cabinet and the assembly have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament over decades, hampering investment and economic and fiscal reform.

The previous government has been acting in a caretaker role.

Kuwait has the most vibrant political system among Gulf Arab states, with a parliament able to pass, and block, legislation and question ministers. Senior government posts are occupied by members of Kuwait’s ruling family.

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