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Kuwaiti emir accepts cabinet resignation

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) ― The ruler of the Gulf state of Kuwait on Thursday issued a decree accepting the resignation of the cabinet which quit earlier in the day, plunging the oil-rich emirate into a fresh political crisis.

The decree, cited by the official news agency KUNA, asked Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahamd Al-Sabah and other ministers to continue as a caretaker government until a new cabinet is appointed.

The development, unrelated to revolts in the Arab world, marked the resignation of the sixth cabinet led by Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahamd Al-Sabah, since he was named to the post five years ago.

Three parliaments have been dissolved in the emirate over the same period reflecting almost non-stop political wrangling between opposition MPs and the government, stalling development in the wealthy OPEC state.

In its letter to the emir, the cabinet said it resigned because of developments that threaten to “undermine national unity and security,” in an apparent reference to a rise in sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites over events in Bahrain.

The resignation comes after MPs filed petitions to question in parliament three ministers who are senior members of Kuwait’s Al-Sabah ruling family over a variety of allegations including corruption and failure to perform their duties.

Liberal MPs Adel al-Saraawi and Marzouk al-Ghanem last week filed to grill Kuwait’s deputy premier for economic affairs, Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, over allegations of corruption in contracts worth $900 million.

Earlier this week, Shiite MP Faisal al-Duwaisan filed to quiz Information and Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Sabah.

Another Shiite lawmaker, Saleh Ashour, on Wednesday demanded to grill Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah over a Bahraini TV program that allegedly insulted the regime and people of Kuwait.

The cabinet’s latest resignation also coincides with an opposition campaign for the resignation and replacement of the prime minister.

Several opposition MPs on Thursday called on the emir to appoint a new prime minister, accusing Sheikh Nasser, who is in his early 70s, of failing to lead Kuwait despite huge financial surpluses on the back of high oil prices.

“We want a new government with a new prime minister charting a new course ... If Sheikh Nasser is retained, all the problems will return and the crisis will be prolonged,” said Faisal al-Muslim, an Islamist.

Mussallam al-Barrak, spokesman for the opposition Popular Action Bloc, vowed to file a motion to question Sheikh Nasser himself if he is named to form the next government.

“The right start is to have a new prime minister. Without this it will be useless to talk about reform,” he told reporters.

“Sheikh Nasser has failed in every issue he has handled ... If the prime minister insists on remaining in his post, the situation in Kuwait will continue to deteriorate,” he said.

Muslim said that governments led by Sheikh Nasser had over the past five years spent about $330 billion but without any major impact on development in Kuwait, which has 1.15 million nationals out of a 2.4-million population.

Kuwait’s last poll, brought forward due to an earlier political crisis, was held in May 2009. The country sits on about 10 percent of global crude reserves and currently pumps 2.3 million barrels a day.
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