Kuwait City: The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah, on Monday, accepted the resignation of the government.
The Prime Minister, Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah, handed in his government’s resignation to the Emir after the ministers that make up the Kuwaiti cabinet submitted their resignation to the prime minister last week.
The Cabinet of Ministers was formed about a month ago on December 14. The new cabinet saw a grand reshuffling, as only six of the 16 ministers served in the previous cabinet.
What does the resignation mean?
The speaker of the parliament, Marzouq Al Ghanim, announced that given the government’s resignation the ministers will continue their duties until a new government is formed.
There is no constitutional mandate that dictates how soon a new government should be formed.
Al Ghanim added that there will be no parliamentary sessions until a new government is formed.
While it is unclear what the future holds, the customary next step is that the Emir appoints a prime minister who will then form a new government.
Motion to interrogate prime minister
According to the KUNA, the government handed in their resignation, “in light of developments in the relationship between the National Assembly and the government, and what the national interest may warrant.”
One of the main disputes between the government and the parliament was the motion to interrogate the prime minister.
On January 5, three MPs, Bader Al Dahoom, Thamer Al Suwait and Khaled Al Moanes, put forth a motion to interrogate the prime minister.
They filed the motion under a couple of clauses, one of which that the prime minister failed to adhere to Article 98 of the Kuwaiti Constitution which states, “upon formation, every Ministry shall submit its program to the National Assembly and the Assembly may express whatever comments it deems appropriate thereon.”
A day later, 38 MPs agreed to the interrogation, setting an unprecedented move as it was the first in time in Kuwaiti history that majority of the MPs favor a motion before the session even occurs.
The motion to interrogate Sabah Al Khaled was filed a day before a scheduled parliamentary session, therefore the government did not attend the meeting with intention of resigning.
An interrogation session was scheduled for January 19 but was cancelled given that the government resigned.
Clash between government and parliament
While there has been no further elaboration by state media or governmental officials, it is likely that the government handed in its resignation following the increasing clash between the government and the parliament.
Other than the motion filed against the prime minister, several MPs have voiced their discontent with the government for going against the public’s demands and not upholding their constitutional duties.
MP Mohammed Al Mutair pointed out the government’s statement after the opening session of the 16th legislative term, when Marzouq Al Ghanim was reelected as speaker of parliament, that stated they were content with the outcome of the opening session was “rude”.
Several MPs stated that if the government was to re-appoint Sabah Al Khaled as the prime minister that they would file a motion to interrogate him again. In addition, many MPs voiced that if certain ministers were reappointed they would also file a motion to interrogate the prime minister.
How does an interrogation session work?
MPs have a constitutional right to interrogate any minister, including the prime minister. During an interrogation session, the MPs have the opportunity to question the minister who has had a motion filed against them. Once the interrogation session is over, a session must be scheduled, only after seven days from the date the motion was filed, for a no-confidence vote to take place if a minimum of 10 MPs back the motion.
Ministers are barred from taking part in a no-confidence vote, as per article 101 of the constitution. The article also states that if a majority votes in favor of a no-confidence vote then the minister shall be deemed relieved of his Ministry from that very date and shall submit his resignation immediately.
If a no-confidence vote against a prime minister succeeds, according to article 102 of the constitution, the Emir must either appoint a new prime minister or dissolve the parliament.
History of vote of no confidence
Throughout the history of Kuwait, there has never been a successful no-confidence vote against a prime minister.
In 2006, three MPs filed a motion to interrogate the former prime minister, Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah, because the government refused to vote to change the electoral law, although it was it being demanded by the Kuwaiti youth in a popular movement known as Nabiha Khams and that was backed by 29 MPs. After the motion was filed, the late Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, dissolved the parliament.
At the end of 2008, another motion to integrate Nasser Al Mohammed was filled and before the interrogation session even took place the government handed in its resignation.
A month later, in January 2009, a new government was formed, with Nasser Al Mohammed reappointed as prime minister. Then in March, three motions were filed against the prime minister, which resulted in the government resigning again and the dissolution of parliament.
The first ever no-confidence session against a prime minister took place in December 2009. While most interrogation and no-confidence sessions in the past were public, this one was held behind closed doors given that it was the prime minister that was being grilled.
Then a no-confidence vote was put forth against Nasser Al Mohammed in 2011 which was the closest a prime minister ever came to to losing a vote of no-confidence given the close margins of 25-22 with one MP abstaining.
During 2012, the parliament held its first ever public interrogation session against the former prime minister, Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah.