Kuwaiti Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah. (Photo credit: YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images)
The Crown Prince of Kuwait, Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, appointed his brother Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah as the new prime minister on 24 July.
The appointment came after the resignation on 10 May of the Kuwaiti government for the third time in six months, due to tensions between the previous prime ministers and the elected parliament.
The Kuwaiti parliament is the strongest in the region in terms of its powers to create and pass laws, as well as to question ministers.
On 22 June, amid tensions between parliament and the government, both of whom have blocked fiscal reform, the crown prince dissolved the parliament and called for early elections.
In a televised speech, the crown prince said that the domestic political front of the country was being “torn by disagreement and personal interests” to its own detriment.
Kuwait has traditionally depended on cooperation between its parliament – being the Gulf’s oldest legislature – and its government.
According to political experts, the opposition was expected to have mass support, as indicated by recent polls, without alterations to electoral constituencies.
The decision for the dissolution of parliament follows a period during which several opposition members of parliament demanded Sheikh Meshal name a new prime minister to replace the caretaker administration.
Opposition member of parliament Ahmad al-Azmi said: “Our hands as parliamentarians have been tied for two years.”
Reports from March indicated that the Kuwaiti government owed 2.35 billion dinars ($7.78 billion) in late payments to public institutions, allegedly due to a lack of liquidity in the Treasury accounts.
While a recovery in oil prices following the COVID-19 pandemic offered some relief, Kuwait has been unable to issue international debt since 2017, when a public debt law expired and successive parliaments and cabinets failed to replace it with a new one.
Kuwait is a member of OPEC and an ally of the US.