New Kuwaiti emir plays peacemaker between feuding factions

The sources, who spoke to The Arab Weekly, indicated that Sheikh Nawaf will continue his efforts to calm tensions between the government and the National Assembly (Parliament) after recent stormy sessions.

Saturday 03/10/2020
Kuwait’s new Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah takes the oath of office at the parliament, in Kuwait City, Kuwait September 30. (AFP)
Kuwait’s new Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah takes the oath of office at the parliament, in Kuwait City, Kuwait September 30. (AFP)

KUWAIT CITY – Political sources in Kuwait said that the mission of the country’s new Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah will focus on urgent domestic issues amid changing national dynamics and repercussions of health and political crises in the Arab Gulf country.

The sources, who spoke to The Arab Weekly on condition of anonymity, indicated that Sheikh Nawaf will continue his efforts to calm tensions between the government and the National Assembly (Parliament) after recent stormy sessions. 

Parliament has recently opened investigations into corruption and bribery allegations against high-level officials, adding further tension to the country as it reels from its health and economic crises.

Sheikh Nawaf, who was sworn in as Kuwait’s emir after the passing of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, has worked over the past few days to try and bridge the divide between the government and parliament following the body’s sessions questioning the nation’s prime minister. A session had been set to vote on a “non-cooperation” motion, but the death of Sheikh Sabah halted the plan.  

Kuwaiti Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim said that MPs Al-Hamidi al-Subaie and Abdul Karim al-Kandari informed him that deputies who signed the request for a non-cooperation motion against the prime minister would withdraw their request.

This development shows Sheikh Nawaf’s successful efforts to forge a truce between the executive and legislative authorities.

In recent years, battles between executive and legislative authorities have played out in parliamentary sessions that have sometimes ended with the government resigning or being dismissed. 

Kuwaiti sources reported Thursday that “Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah asked the Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq Al Ghanim to withdraw an earlier request to end a sitting of the legislature and reconvene a complementary sitting for the National Assembly on October 20.”

Parliament had been scheduled to end session on the first of October after examining a set of laws and issues ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for November. 

Also, in a surprise move, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Acting Minister of Defence Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Muhammad Al Sabah accepted the resignation of the chief of the General Staff of the Kuwaiti Army, Lieutenant General Muhammad al-Khader.

The move showed a drive to initiate major changes in key ministerial positions and sensitive institutions.

Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai said on Thursday that the chief of staff had submitted his resignation and was granted the rank of lieutenant-general effective October 1.

When he was crown prince, Sheikh Nawaf appointed his son, Sheikh Salem Al Nawwaf, to head the state security apparatus, which looks into sensitive cases and investigates large-scale corruption files.

Kuwait’s new Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah gestures as he takes the oath of office at the parliament, in Kuwait City, Kuwait. September 30. (REUTERS)
Kuwait’s new Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah gestures as he takes the oath of office at the parliament, in Kuwait City, Kuwait. September 30. (REUTERS)

The new Kuwaiti emir said that the Kuwaiti constitution guaranteed a smooth leadership transition and constitutional-related authorities to avoid a “constitutional vacuum” and ensure stability.

In his first speech to parliament after taking power, the Kuwaiti emir said, “Our nation is facing acute circumstances and critical challenges, which can only be overcome … by unifying ranks and working hard together.” 

Kuwait is not expected to change its internal foreign or economic policy on oil or investment. Observers believe that the new Kuwaiti emir will focus on domestic issues and try to resolve political differences that threaten the country’s stability. 

Sheikh Nawaf previously called for the government and the National Assembly to adopt effective measures to crack down on all forms of corruption. 

The new emir is now expected to work to further resolve crises and disputes, including corruption scandals that have involved members of the ruling family.