Item

 

Opposition MP Faisal Al-Mislim, has submitted a request to grill Kuwaiti prime-minister in parliament.

 

The opposition bloc insists that the grilling is "wholly warranted," saying that its principal focus would be on the issue of the premier's office expenses.

 

In a separate development, interior minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, under pressure over a KD 5.3 million contract, referred himself to the ministers' tribunal which investigates alleged criminal offenses by current and former ministers. The minister's surprising move came one day after he denied reports that he had submitted his resignation, a report which was also quashed by the prime minister.

 

MP Al Waalan also threatened to grill the minister of public works for a separate matter.

 

15 November 2009

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: increasing risk

 

The political situation in Kuwait has been gradually deteriorating since the end of the summer. Although the increasing tension has grown out of separate issues and involving different members of government and parliament, the motion to grill the prime-minister represents a serious escalation of the tense situation.

 

The move by the interior minister also indicates that he does not intend to quit and appears to be prepared for confrontation with opposition MPs who grilled him in June but failed to oust him from office in a no-confidence vote.

 

With the political climate heading into an all-out confrontation between government and parliament, there is increased likelihood that the Emir may dissolve parliament, which is less than a year old. Previous motions to grill the prime-minister have either resulted in the dissolution of parliament, resignation of government or suspension of the constitution. In all cases, the stability of the governance in Kuwait will be undermined and may result in shaking the confidence in the Kuwaiti economy.

 

If the parliament is dissolved, it would be the fourth time in which parliament was dissolved in as many years and without a dramatic change of political scene, such confrontations are likely to continue if a new parliament is elected along the same constituency lines as the current. It may require the Emir to consider changing the government and prime-minister, something that may not be as easy given that senior members of the royal family hold government positions and therefore such a change may lead to internal conflict within the ruling family. If the Emir chooses to change the government but retain the prime-minister, this will be seen as another attempt to delay an impending crisis. As this option has also been tried in the past, it will not represent a solution to the inherent tensions between government and parliament.

 

This leaves the final option of suspending the constitution as the one that has not been utilized in recent years but is seen as the “nuclear option”. The decision to suspend the constitution is taken by the Emir and if indeed taken, will lead to a serious building up of tensions within the Kuwaiti political scene.