KUWAIT CITY (Reuters) – Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah presented the resignation of his cabinet to the country’s ruler on Wednesday, days before the premier was due to be questioned in parliament over his choice of ministers and other issues.
The standoff between the government and parliament less than a month after the cabinet was appointed poses the first big challenge to Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, who assumed power in September.
It complicates government efforts to tackle the OPEC state’s deepest economic crisis in decades, caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus crisis.
Ministers had submitted their resignations on Tuesday to Sheikh Sabah, a move the government said was related to "developments in the relationship between the National Assembly (parliament) and the government”.
It was not immediately clear if the emir, who has the final say in matters of state, would accept the cabinet’s resignation.
The motion to question Sheikh Sabah, who has been prime minister since late 2019, was submitted by three lawmakers on Jan. 5 in the first regular session of the new assembly, in which the opposition made gains in last year’s election.
More than 30 other MPs in the assembly, which has 50 elected members, supported the request to question him. The motion referred to a cabinet that did not reflect the poll result and government "interference” in electing the speaker and members of parliamentary committees.
In addition to its elected members, cabinet ministers also sit in parliament.
Sabah was first appointed as premier on November 19, 2019, after the resignation of his predecessor Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad Al Sabah. He was reappointed as prime minister on December 8, 2020, following general elections that saw the opposition win almost half of the parliament’s seats.
Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed Al Sabah was sworn in as the new emir of Kuwait on September 30 after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah passed away at the age of 91.
Members of the Al Sabah ruling family retain full control over key government and executive posts in the Arab country. They have been in power for the past 250 years.
Under the Kuwaiti constitution, the emir has the final say in state matters and can dissolve the parliament at the recommendation of the government.
The prime minister traditionally helps navigate the often tense relationship between the government and the parliament in Kuwait.