Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah speaks at the first parliament session held after elections, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 15 2020. Picture: REUTERS/STEPHANIE MCGEHEE
Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah speaks at the first parliament session held after elections, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 15 2020. Picture: REUTERS/STEPHANIE MCGEHEE

Kuwait’s cabinet ministers resigned on Tuesday after just a month in office, after a dispute with opposition legislators over issues including the re-election of parliament’s speaker.

The resignations were forced after a majority of legislators backed a request to question Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, a move that could have led to his dismissal or parliament’s dissolution. The cabinet, formed after parliamentary elections in December, was the second Sabah has headed in less than a year.

State-run Kuwait News Agency did not say whether Sabah accepted the ministers’ resignations.

Tensions mounted during parliament’s first session, when incumbent speaker Marzouq Alghanim was re-elected in a vote that, like most in Kuwait’s parliament, was open to both the elected legislators and cabinet ministers. Opposition legislators alleged Alghanim’s victory was due to government intervention and threatened to question the prime minister about it.

Kuwait has had 17 governments and eight elections since 2006. It last chose a new National Assembly on December 5, replacing dozens of incumbent legislators in a blow to pro-government forces, women and liberals.

The fresh turmoil comes at a critical moment for an economy reeling from lower oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic and stalled reform. Legislators have thwarted plans to reallocate state handouts and blocked proposals to issue debt. They have also barely addressed the pressures on the economy, and neither policymakers nor legislators have made reference to a delayed bill that would allow the government to return to international bond markets.

The Gulf Arab nation, home to about 6% of the world’s oil reserves and the fourth-largest producer in oil cartel Opec, is facing a record budget deficit. The International Monetary Fund expects GDP to contract more than 8% in 2020.

Bloomberg

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