Kuwait’s Parliament Officially Dissolves

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Jess Diez
Managing Editor & Research Associate, Middle East Policy Council

August 9, 2022

On Tuesday, August 2, Kuwait formally dissolved its parliament, a decision Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah informally announced this past June. Tuesday’s decree expressed the country’s turbulent political scene, specifically riddled with challenges between the nation’s legislature and government. Accordingly, the Crown Prince called for the 10th parliamentary dissolution in Kuwait’s parliamentary lifetime, as well as early national election. 

Crown Prince Sheik Meshal Al-Ahmad made Tuesday’s parliamentary decision upon an Amiri Decree. Written in Kuwait State News (KUNA), this decree stated: “To rectify the political scene involving lack of harmony and cooperation, in addition to differences, conflicts, personal interests, failure to accept others, practices and behaviors that undermine national unity, it was a must to resort to the people who represent the destiny, extension, survival and existence so that they could rectify the path in a way that serves their supreme interests.”

Cited in Alarabiya, Sheik Meshal further described the need for parliamentary dissolution, asserting that political officials have not “committed to the pledge to work toward achieving political stability and serving the country and its people.. All of this has unfortunately resulted in practices that threaten national unity and that do not harmonize with citizens’ aspirations… eventually resulting in obstructing the path of development.”

The last parliamentary dissolution, which occured in 2016, was invoked by tensions among the nation’s government and parliament, still ringing true for this most recent 2022 dissolvement. The 2016 move came less than 24 hours after Marzouk al-Ghanem, Kuwait’s parliament speaker, called for ‘snap elections.’ Explained in the Middle East Eye, al-Ghanem pushed for elections promptly due to ascending security and economic challenges: “Ghanem’s remarks came after lawmakers filed three requests to grill ministers over a decision to hike petrol prices and over alleged financial and administrative violations, in a clear sign of tensions between the government and parliament. The emir’s decree was issued at the recommendation of the government, which held an emergency meeting earlier on Sunday to discuss the stand-off with MPs.”

Seeing history repeat itself, concerns regarding administrative violations were prevalent points of discussion in this dissolvement. Zawya, expressed concerns from Kuwait’s members of parliaments, specifically former MP Osama al-Shaheen, who argued that the illegal appointments at the [National] Assembly are considered crimes as they violate the principles of equal opportunities and justice. He said the Assembly hired consultants and employees whose salaries and allowances range from KD 2,000 to more than KD 4,000 without publishing job advertisements since 2016. He added that he looked into the records of the State Audit Bureau (SAB), which included these violations; indicating one of the illegally appointed employees is an 18-year-old citizen whose salary is more than KD 2,000. Ironically, the recent information leaks claimed that Al-Shaheen supported illegal appointments.”

Journalist Saleh also discussed the economic facets of Kuwait’s next legislature. Along with finding a resolution for the battle over power-sharing, he stated that the next discussion will revolve around “the financial status of the State, State budget…and the final accounts of 34 subsidiaries and autonomous public institutions. It has been reported that the revenues of the State reached KD 18.6 billion while the expenditures totaled KD 21.6 billion—deficit of KD2.991 billion for fiscal 2021/2022. Oil revenues increased remarkably in fiscal 2021/2022—KD16.216 billion compared to KD8.779 billion in fiscal 2020/2021.”

The Jerusalem Post highlighted insight from Mohammad Alwahabit, a professor in the Philosophy Department at Kuwait University. Alwahabit identified the parliamentary dissolution to be a “common case for Kuwaiti politics. There is no parliament in the last 50 years that completed its constitution period, which is four years…Alwahaib explain[ed] that, according to Kuwait’s constitution, the emir is entitled to dissolve the country’s parliament, the National Assembly, as long as he provides a reason for the dissolution. The constitution also imposes a limitation, Alwahaib added, which is that the emir cannot dissolve the parliament for the same reason twice. After a National Assembly is dissolved, a new round of elections must be held in the country within two months, otherwise the dissolution is annulled and the National Assembly reinstated to its position. This means that Kuwait must hold a new round of elections before October 2 of this year for the dissolution to be valid.

Discussed further in the Jerusalem Post, Professor George Emile Irani at the Universidad Alfzonzo El Sabio in Madrid noted that the dissolution should not detrimentally affect the stability of the nation: “‘It won’t have any impact on the stability of the country because Kuwait is a very rich country that has a lot of resources…People of Kuwait appreciate that things are being more stable now, but basically for them, Kuwait is fine as long as they can get their subsidies every month and their salaries.”

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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