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Kuwaiti Emir Dissolves Parliament

Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah paved the way for new elections in Kuwait among ongoing allegations of widespread corruption
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/6/2011, 10:16 PM

As predicted by observers, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah on Tuesday dissolved the parliament – just one week after the country’s cabinet resigned en masse.

Al Sabah's decree cited “the stalling of achievements and threats to the higher interests of the nation” as the reasons to “go back to the nation to choose its representatives in order to overcome the existing obstacles and achieve national interests.”

The decision was announced a short time after an emergency cabinet meeting convened for the express purpose of discussing the decree to dissolve the parliament.

The outcome was expected as last week 20 MPs from the ruling coalition agreed to refuse to attend meetings and votes in order to give Al Sabah grounds for the move.

According to Kuwait's constitution, parliament can be dissolved only by a decree from the Emir and, under Kuwait’s constitution general elections must be held within 60 day.

Failure to elect a new parliament within the two-month limit allows the outgoing lawmakers to regain their seats.

On November 16 protesters led by Islamist opposition leaders stormed Kuwait's parliament demanding the resignation of Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad – the Emir's nephew – on grounds of corruption.

The incident caused the Emir to order Kuwait's security services to "restore calm."

Sheikh Nasser allegedly plundered some $300 million from public coffers to fill his own private bank accounts. The situation was compounded following reports last week that at least 18 MPs had allegedly received bribes to influence their voting.

In addition to charges of corruption, opposition leaders charged Sheikh Nasser's government was unable to address Kuwait’s growing national and international issues.

Shaikh Nasser, 71, stepped down last week and the Emir appointed Shaikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah, the outgoing defense minister, as the new premier. Observers note, however, that Sheikh Nasser has stepped down five times since 2006.

The new government will oversee the elections before it resigns and a new one is formed – or the old one under Sheikh Nasser returns should forming a new government prove impossible, per Kuwait's constitution.