Government infighting provokes Kuwaiti cabinet shakeup

Rumours of a row began circulating more than a month ago after Sheikh Nasser stopped attending parliamentary sessions and participating in meetings of the Council of Ministers.
Sunday 17/11/2019
Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah (L) delivers a speech during a parliament session at the Kuwait’s National Assembly, last July. (AFP)
Government deadlock. Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah (L) delivers a speech during a parliament session at the Kuwait’s National Assembly, last July. (AFP)

LONDON - Kuwait’s political scene has grown increasingly uncertain after infighting reportedly broke out between ministers over the formation of the next cabinet.

Reported disputes between Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah and Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled al-Jarrah al-Sabah have drawn concern in parliament.

Kuwaiti Parliament Speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim said “a large group of MPs believe that the problem lies in the government team because it is not homogenous.”

Rumours of a row began circulating more than a month ago after Sheikh Nasser stopped attending parliamentary sessions and participating in meetings of the Council of Ministers.

Sheikh Nasser had demanded a judicial inquiry into alleged violations in the ministry under his predecessor, Sheikh Khaled al-Jarrah al-Sabah. On November 14, Sheikh Nasser referred the case for prosecution, saying the committee he formed determined that individuals were guilty of violations.

While the prime minister said he was ready to investigate the cases and that the fight against corruption was a priority, a controversy developed within the cabinet over how to proceed.

Sheikh Jaber, as prime minister, submitted his cabinet’s resignation to Emir Sheikh Sabah Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, who accepted it November 14, two days after parliament filed a no-confidence motion against the Interior minister, Sheikh Khaled.

Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef al-Hajraf resigned in October to avoid being questioned in parliament over allegedly violating shariah by charging interest on loans taken by retired Kuwaitis from the state-run pension agency.

Public Works Minister Jenan Bushehri announced her resignation following lengthy questioning in parliament during which she was asked about alleged mismanagement of her portfolios and poor use of public funds.

Cabinet resignations in Kuwait happen frequently when elected lawmakers ask to question or submit a no-confidence vote against senior government officials.

The cabinet will remain in office until a new government is appointed, the government communication office said.

Kuwait's parliament has power to pass legislation and question ministers.

Friction between the cabinet and parliament has led to frequent reshuffles or the dissolution of parliament.

The government is headed by a prime minister selected by the emir, who has the final say in state matters. Senior posts are occupied by ruling family members.

With the resignation of the cabinet accepted, the emir can rename the outgoing prime minister or appoint a new head of government to form the cabinet, the eighth since 2011.

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