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Kuwait Crown Prince says 'petty' political squabbling must end

October 18, 2022 at 3:07 pm

The new Kuwaiti crown prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah gestures as he takes the oath at the parliament on October 8, 2020 in Kuwait City [Jaber Abdulkhaleg/Anadolu Agency]

Kuwait’s Crown Prince, in an emotional speech at Tuesday’s opening of Parliament, urged the legislative and executive branches to focus on the country’s development and put an end to a prolonged feud and “petty matters” that have wasted time and money, Reuters reports.

Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah took over most of the ruling Emir’s duties late last year and has, since, largely focused on tackling domestic political bickering that has long plagued the wealthy Gulf Arab State, hampering investment and key reforms.

The standoff between the government and elected Parliament has blocked structural and fiscal reforms, including a debt law allowing Kuwait to tap global markets, and delayed approval of the State budget for the fiscal year starting April 2022.

“We hope for an end of the time of tension and escalation in the relationship between members of the legislative and executive authorities … There has been enough waste of painstaking efforts, precious time and squandered money,” Sheikh Meshal said in the address, visibly crying at the end.

Kuwait, an OPEC oil producer, bans political parties but has given its legislature more influence than similar bodies in other Gulf monarchies. Kuwait’s political stability has traditionally depended on cooperation between the two branches.

Opposition figures made big gains in legislative polls in September after Sheikh Meshal dissolved Parliament in a bid to end the stalemate. Before that he appointed Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah as Prime Minister, at a time opposition lawmakers stepped up pressure for a new premier and parliament speaker.

READ: Kuwait PM begins consultations with MPs to resolve crisis

Sheikh Meshal pledged on Tuesday that the government would not interfere in the selection of the parliament speaker or parliamentary committees.

Later, Parliament chose Ahmed Al-Saadoun as Speaker, a position he held from 1985-1999. His predecessor, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, had been criticised as pro-government.

Prime Minister, Sheikh Ahmad, told Parliament his government would safeguard public funds and take a tough stand on corruption, a key issue for many citizens, along with jobs.

Kuwaitis account for less than a third of the 4.6 million population, and enjoy a lavish cradle-to-grave welfare system, reforms to which have been resisted by successive parliaments.