Kuwaiti leader tells government and parliament to co-operate

27 October 2009

Ruler suspended National Assembly three times since 2006

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah has told the government and members of the National Assembly, or parliament, that they have “no choice” but to work together. He was speaking at the inauguration of the second 2009 parliamentary session on 27 October.

The government and National Assembly have been at odds almost constantly since he took over as the ruler in 2006. “[There is] no alternative to objective and calm dialogue in order to instill mutual confidence between the parliament and government, and respecting the prerogatives of each authority, as well as best utilising constitutional tools within the laws and legislation [of the country],” he said.

Analysts and senior political sources in Kuwait say the emir is reminding MPs that he may choose to suspend parliament if lawmakers and the government fail to reach a consensus.

Sheikh Sabah has dissolved the National Assembly three times since he became emir in 2006, in almost every case to avoid interrogations of senior cabinet members including the prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, by MPs.

Sheikh Nasser has formed five governments since he was appointed prime minister by his uncle the emir in 2006 because of various resignations, again to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.

Kuwait’s economy has underperformed in recent years as a bloated public sector and political infighting have stalled progress on major public work schemes and vital reforms.

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