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The Emir of Kuwait finally accepted the resignation of the interior minister Sheikh Jaber Khaled al-Sabah who quit last month over the death of a detainee allegedly as a result of police torture.

 

The cabinet was also informed that the Emir appointed Sheikh Ahmad Homud al-Sabah, another senior member of the ruling family, as deputy premier and new interior minister.

 

Sheikh Jaber submitted his resignation on 13 January after the interior ministry acknowledged there was a criminal suspicion behind the death of detained Kuwaiti citizen Mohammad Ghazzai al-Mutairi. Parliamentary and government probe panels found the man had died of severe torture for six days. Sixteen policemen are under interrogation by the public prosecution in connection to his death.

 

The new interior minister was a top advisor to Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and had served as interior minister in 1991-92 and as defence minister in 1994.

 

After submitting his resignation, the outgoing interior minister was asked to stay on but three opposition lawmakers filed to question him in parliament two weeks ago.

 

The questioning was due to take place but parliament postponed all sessions until 8 March. With the resignation now accepted, Sheikh Jaber will no longer face a parliamentary questioning.

 

Several MPs welcomed the resignation and called on the new minister to start comprehensive and fundamental reforms in the ministry.

 

The opposition Reform and Development Bloc also called on the new interior minister to launch a probe into the attack by the police and the Elite Special Forces on a public gathering in Sulaibkhat on 8 December which resulted in wounding four MPs and a dozen civilians.

 

February 6, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Decreasing Risk


 

The resignation of the interior minister was not accepted by the Emir for several weeks, casting suspicion that the Emir was supporting the minister, a member of the ruling family. This has raised tensions and was almost led to public demonstrations against the minister, before they were aborted. With the resignation of the minister accepted, it is likely that the brewing political crisis which may have well led to serious unrest, have at least been diffused.

 

The appointment of a new minister, although from the same regime, is likely to delay or even completely diffuse the crisis. It remains to be seen how the minister will respond to calls by the parliamentary opposition to investigate the torture case and the attack against MP’s during the December demonstrations. Lack of response by the minister will reignite the crisis and increase the likelihood of civil unrest.