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A Kuwaiti lawmaker announced he had filed a request to question the information minister, who is also the oil minister and a member of the ruling famly. MP Ali al-Deqbasi told reporters at parliament that he submitted the request to quiz Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah. Deqbasi plans to question the minister on issues including failing to impose financial monitoring laws on licensed print and broadcast media.

 

Kuwait's parliament has triggered numerous cabinet resignations or reshuffles through questioning and no-confidence motions.

 

Sheikh Ahmad could be forced to step down if he does not win parliament's confidence after the questioning, but there is no indication yet that the issue has the potential to rally significant opposition to him in parliament.

 

Sheikh Ahmad was appointed oil minister in February 2009. He is Kuwait's fifth oil minister in three years, and its first permanent oil minister since Mohammad al-Olaim, who resigned in November 2008 along with the rest of the government. Sheikh Ahmad, a nephew of the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, was also made minister of information in the new cabinet in May 2009.

 

February 22, 2010

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk

 

The request to question Sheikh Ahmad breaks several weeks of relative quite between the government and parliament. The subject of the questioning does not appear to be serious enough to trigger a resignation. However, the way things have moved in the past indicate that once an MP files for questioning, the doors open for a wider confrontation between parliament and government.

 

Traditionally, questioning members of the ruling family has been considered as insulting and led to those being asked to be questioned to resign, leading to a change of government or dissolution of parliament. However, this taboo appears to have changed when the prime-minister was questioned by parliament last month, for the first time in Kuwait history. There is therefore no reason why Sheikh Ahmad’s questioning will trigger a government resignation or parliament’s dissolution.

 

Given that the minister in question is a member of the ruling family and the huge unpredictability of how things move, the fact that a questioning request has been filed increases the possibility of a parliamentary-government crisis. If this happens, dissolution of parliament is not unlikely. This threatens to undermine economic reforms so badly needed by Kuwait.