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Kuwait’s government resigns in latest standoff with parliament

 

Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation on Tuesday, state news agency KUNA reported, ahead of a no-confidence vote against the prime minister in parliament, amid a lengthy political feud that has hindered fiscal reform in the Gulf oil producer.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who took over most of the ruling emir’s duties late last year, received the government’s letter of resignation from Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid, KUNA reported.

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.

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The no-confidence vote was scheduled for Wednesday. The current government was appointed in December, the third in 2021 as the standoff with the elected parliament dragged on.

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

Fitch Ratings downgraded Kuwait in January to ‘AA-‘ from ‘AA’, citing “ongoing political constraints” hindering its ability to pass a debt law and address a heavy reliance on oil, a lavish welfare system and a bloated public sector.

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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 political feuding in Kuwait has led to frequent cabinet reshuffles or dissolution of parliament holding up investment and fiscal and economic reform.

In February, the defence and interior ministers, also members of the ruling family, resigned over what they described as “arbitrary” questioning of ministers.

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Reuters

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