Emir Sheikh Nawaf of Kuwait has dissolved the reinstated 2020 parliament and announced general elections to be held in the coming months. The announcement was made in a speech delivered by Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad on behalf of Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf. This decision comes after the Constitutional Court nullified September’s parliamentary elections, which were considered the most inclusive in a decade, and ordered the reinstatement of the 2020 assembly.
Marzouq Al Ghanim, the assembly speaker, had previously called for a parliamentary session this month to address appeals against the court’s ruling. The government had been urged by nearly 30 political figures, former MPs, and activists to challenge the decision. According to Kuwait’s constitution, elections must be held within two months of the parliament’s dissolution.
Prince Meshal emphasized that the decision was based on the “will of the people” and assured that “legal and political reforms” would accompany the elections. Kuwait remains the only Gulf state with a fully elected parliament, having adopted the parliamentary system in 1962. However, it has faced multiple political crises due to disputes between the government and parliament.
Why is Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf calling for elections again?
Experts have cautioned that the court’s ruling to nullify September elections could result in increased voter apathy. Some have called for a “total political reset” to address the ongoing impasse, which has focused on a draft bill proposing that the government assume the debt of Kuwaiti citizens. While the government estimates this would cost nearly $46 billion in public funds, MPs argue it would cost less than $6.5 billion.
Kuwait, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has struggled with extended disputes between its government and elected parliament, hindering fiscal reforms. Though the country enjoys strong fiscal and external balance sheets, internal conflicts and gridlock have impeded investment and efforts to reduce dependence on oil revenues.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee