Kuwait on Monday saw the resignation of its second government this year, creating what analysts see as a chance to break a legislative logjam that has blocked major economic reforms for months.
A potent opposition bloc in the parliament had been holding up the reforms while demanding the right to question Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah and secure pardons for dissidents exiled from the small Persian Gulf country.
Sheikh Sabah, who like all his cabinet was appointed by Kuwait’s emir, has been criticized for alleged corruption and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a motion passed in March gave him immunity from questioning until the end of 2022. With the resignation of his entire cabinet, he may escape questioning permanently.
According to Reuters, the lawmakers’ demands have slowed attempts to reform Kuwait’s oil-dependent economy, but the resignation could make it easier to resolve the deadlock.
In another move to break the impasse on Sunday, the emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, promised amnesty to opposition political members, allowing self-exiled Kuwaitis who have criticized him to return home.
Reuters quoted parliamentary Speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim as saying the amnesty will enable Kuwait to turn a “new page” and focus on “important pending matters” such as balancing the national budget, boosting state finances and tapping global markets.
It’s unclear whether the emir will accept the resignation. The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported that he received notice of the decision from the prime minister, but the agency didn’t lay out the next steps. Kuwait’s government last dissolved in January, just six days after handing its resignation to the emir.
The Associated Press reports Kuwait’s unusual model of governance — one in which elected lawmakers meet with an emir-appointed government — often holds it back from economic progress.
The COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s slump in oil prices and political infighting have weakened Kuwait’s economy, according to Bloomberg, but the government’s resignation is expected to unlock legislative options that will aid recovery.
Some information for this report is from Reuters and The Associated Press.