Kuwaiti cabinet resigns in new political crisis
Kuwait's government resigned on Thursday sparking a fresh crisis in an oil-rich Gulf state prone to political volatility, as opposition MPs stepped up calls for a change of prime minister.
The development, unrelated to revolts in the Arab world, marked the sixth cabinet led by Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to resign since he was named five years ago.
Three parliaments have been dissolved in the emirate over the same period.
"The Kuwaiti cabinet submitted its resignation today at an extraordinary meeting," State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Rudhan al-Rudhan told the state news agency KUNA.
With the opposition calling for a change of premier on the grounds mainly of incompetence, the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has the sole right under Kuwaiti law to select the prime minister.
Sheikh Sabah must first decide whether to accept the government's resignation, and then, if so, name Sheikh Nasser or another figure to form a new cabinet.
The resignations come after MPs filed petitions to question in parliament three ministers who are senior members of Kuwait's Al-Sabah ruling family over a variety of allegations including corruption and failure to perform duty.
Liberal MPs Adel al-Saraawi and Marzouk al-Ghanem last week filed to grill Kuwait's deputy premier for economic affairs, Sheikh Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah, over allegations of corruption in contracts worth $900 million.
Earlier this week, Shiite MP Faisal al-Duwaisan filed to quiz Information and Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Sabah. Another MP, Saleh Ashour, also Shiite, demanded to grill Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah.
The cabinet's latest resignation also coincides with an opposition campaign for the resignation and replacement of the prime minister, a nephew of the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah.
Several opposition MPs on Thursday called on the emir to appoint a new prime minister, accusing Sheikh Nasser, who is in his early 70s, of failing to lead Kuwait despite huge financial surpluses on the back of high oil prices.
"We want a new government with a new prime minister charting a new course ... If Sheikh Nasser is retained, all the problems will return and the crisis will be prolonged," said Faisal al-Muslim, an Islamist.
Mussallam al-Barrak, spokesman for the opposition Popular Action Bloc, vowed to file a motion to question Sheikh Nasser himself if he is named to form the next government.
"The right start is to have a new prime minister. Without this it will be useless to talk about reform," he told reporters.
"Sheikh Nasser has failed in every issue he has handled ... If the prime minister insists on remaining in his post, the situation in Kuwait will continue to deteriorate," he said.
Muslim said that governments led by Sheikh Nasser had over the past five years spent about $330 billion but without any major impact on development in Kuwait, which has 1.15 million nationals out of a 2.4-million population.
Kuwait's last poll, brought forward due to an earlier political crisis, was held in May 2009. The country sits on about 10 percent of global crude reserves and currently pumps 2.3 million barrels a day.