The emir of oil-rich Kuwait has dissolved the countrys parliament, citing mounting security challenges and volatile regional developments that requires handling by a new government.
The decree by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah opens up the way for a seventh election in the last 10 years, in the Gulf state where the government is trying boost slowing down economy by introducing cuts to longstanding welfare benefits and remodelling its fuel subsidy structure in the wake of lower oil prices.
Kuwait has one of the oldest and among the most autonomous parliamentary systems but the ruling family has the final say in the key decision making and has the authority to dissolve the parliament.
Kuwaits official news agency Kuna, which carried the decree, said the move was linked to the security challenges and their different impacts and risks, that require returning to the people – the origin of authority – to choose its representatives to express its directions, ambitions and contribute to facing these challenges.
The decree has not mentioned the date of new elections, however, media reports citing the constitution say the fresh ballot should be held within 60 days.
The agency quoted speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim as saying: holding elections where Kuwait people will have the opportunity to express their opinion is a praiseworthy democratic practice.
Kuwait has seen political turbulence in the past few years, primarily due to power struggle between the opposition and the government, in which members of the ruling family hold key positions. Several parliaments have collapsed without completing their mandated tenure. The assembly can pass legislation and question ministers but the emir has the final authority in state matters.
The most recent point of contention came to fore when the cabinet in August endorsed a plan to raise the prices of gasoline by as much as 73 per cent to start rationalising fuel subsidies where the prices will be restructured in harmony with the average rates. Members of the parliament were vocal against the governments socially unpopular decision and were lobbying for a reversal of the policy. On 5 October, the government said it will subsidise 75 litres of fuel a month for its citizens, which was about 30 per cent of the original price increase that became effective in September.