Amir accepts government resignation Parliament to sit February 15

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 5: HH the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, formally accepted the executive authority’s resignation Sunday to pave way for the formation of the new government. Meanwhile, the 14th legislative term of the National Assembly will begin Feb 15.

An Amiri decree was issued accepting the resignation of HH the Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, and his interim cabinet. It also ordered all to remain in post and run the country’s urgent affairs until the new cabinet is formed, expected this week. Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah had met earlier with HH the Amir and tendered his resignation.

Furthermore, the cabinet met Sunday and approved the draft decree setting Feb 15 as the date of the National Assembly’s opening session and has referred it to HH the Amir. As per the Constitution, the legislative authority begins two weeks after members of parliament are elected.

Meanwhile, Islamist MP Jamaan Al-Harbash declared via Twitter that he has no intention of contesting the post of Speaker of Parliament, preferring to concentrate on constitutional and legislative reforms. Al-Harbash, who represents the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the Muslim Brotherhood’s arm in Kuwait, added that his group is to meet Sunday and choose an ICM representative among the MPs to contest for the position. Later in the day the ICM announced it is supporting MP Ahmed Al-Saadoun.
A number of tribal Islamist MPs have already stated they will vote for veteran opposition MP Ahmed Al-Saadoun as speaker. The MPs include Ali Al-Deqbasi, Khaled Tahous, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri and Musallam Al-Barrak. Al-Saadoun will contest against pro-government MPs Mohammed Al-Saqr and Ali Al-Rashid. Furthermore, tribal MP Obaid Al-Wassmi as well as Shiite MP Adnan Abdulsamad announced their intention to run.

Around 34 MPs are of tribal Islamist affiliations and are predicted to vote for Al-Saadoun, along with the only opposition liberal Abdulrahman Al-Anjari, who was also member of the Opposition Bloc. Tribal MPs are also expected to field representatives to run for deputy speaker.

Meanwhile, security officials were compelled to escort independent MP Nabil Al-Fadl out of a celebratory reception he was holding to receive well-wishers. Heavy security presence was witnessed at the event where Al-Fadl’s ally, controversial MP Mohammed Al-Juwaihel, also arrived to join the celebration. Both MPs are strong critics of Kuwait’s tribes.

According to a source, anonymous groups threatened on Twitter to storm the Regency Hotel where the reception was being held, forcing police to remove Al-Fadl. “I will not succumb to any terrorist threats that attempt to push me to resign from the assembly. I thank the security forces for doing their job when they perceived a presence of threat,” Al-Fadl stated after the incident.

It can be recalled that Al-Juwaihel’s electoral tent was burned down Jan 30 by angry Al-Mutair tribesmen after he made defamatory statements against the tribe. Furthermore, Al-Mutair tribesmen had also tried to break-into Al-Watan TV station Jan 31 where Al-Fadl was being interviewed.

On another note, Shiite MP Saleh Ashour threatened to grill the Prime Minister on every issue as like the opposition. He noted that he is the only MP that was re-elected among the former MPs implicated in the multimillion deposit case.

“I will use the same approach used by the opposition, who had sought to grill the Prime Minister on every issue. I am the only one of the MPs accused in the multimillion deposits case and referred to the Public Prosecution, who was re-elected,” he said.

Commenting on the Syrian Embassy’s break-in, Ashour said: “If the government accepted today the storming of the Syrian embassy and the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador, then tomorrow the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain will be stormed and demands for the expulsion of the Ambassador of Bahrain will follow.”

In another development, National Action Bloc (NAB) liberal MP Marzouk Al-Ghanim described the new parliament as extremist in all aspects. In that regard, he promised that former members of the National Action Bloc would return to the parliament which will soon be dissolved.

Agencies add:
The election victory by the Islamist-led opposition in Kuwait reflects public frustration with corruption, coupled with the rise of tribal power and unprecedented street protests, analysts said.
Voters in the Gulf emirate harshly punished the previous government and its allies over corruption charges that implicated at least 13 MPs, with fingers also pointed at senior government officials, they said.

Women, who made history in the 2009 vote by winning four seats for the first time, failed to win a single seat, paying the price for the blind support of most of the female MPs for the government, the analysts said.

The Islamist-led opposition won a majority 34 seats in the 50-member parliament in Thursday’s snap election, with 21 seats won by tribal candidates, half of them Islamists.

Islamists won a total of 23 seats.

“It’s a triumph for Islamists and tribes combining to oppose the government... and a punishment for the previous government over allegations of corruption,” independent political analyst Ayed al-Manna told AFP.

Tribes, who constitute 55 percent of Kuwait’s 1.17-million population, were historically the main supporters of the government and the Al-Sabah ruling family, but that has changed in recent years.
Manna said the unprecedented youth-led street protests, inspired by the Arab Spring, played a decisive role in the opposition’s victory.

Islamists and the Popular Action Bloc, another major component of the opposition, strongly supported the protests which demanded far-reaching political reforms, including the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

As a result of the protests, the previous government led by Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah resigned in late November. A week later Kuwait’s emir dissolved parliament and called for early polls.

“The Arab Spring has reached Kuwait, but in Kuwaiti style... calm, peaceful and legal,” former Islamist MP Mubarak al-Duwailah wrote in Al-Qabas daily on Sunday.

“The people have expressed their support for the Islamist forces,” he said.
Pro-government MPs were reduced to a small minority, while only two of 13 former MPs questioned by the public prosecutor over corruption charges were re-elected. The remainder either lost or did not contest the poll.

“The tribes are now the most powerful (group) within the opposition,” said liberal political analyst Shamlan Issa, who cautioned that the loose opposition coalition remains “divided” with different political agendas.

Liberals were also big losers in the election, being reduced to just two seats from five previously. Many liberal activists and writers predict that the new parliament will not last long because it is packed with hardliners.

“We are headed for an extremely hot political season after a brief honeymoon... parliament may not survive for two years,” said Issa, a political science professor at Kuwait University.

Manna, however, said that Kuwait’s future hangs on the “government’s ability to deal and coexist with the Islamists.”

Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises over the past six years, leading to the resignation of seven governments and the dissolution of parliament four times.

By: Nihal Sharaf and Abubakar A. Ibrahim

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