Unlike the other Gulf states, Kuwait has a dynamic political life, with a parliament elected for four years with broad legislative powers and where debates are often lively. However, this wealthy oil state has been rocked for years by repeated political crises that have hampered its attempts at economic reform.
New twist in the country’s tumultuous political life: Kuwait’s Constitutional Court on Sunday, March 19, declared void the 2022 parliamentary elections, won by the opposition that has boycotted elections for the past decade over executive interference in the legislature.
“The Constitutional Court of Kuwait on Sunday issued a ruling invalidating the results of the National Assembly elections”, because of irregularities surrounding the dissolution of the previous parliament, the official KUNA news agency reported. The court also ruled for the reinstatement of the parliament elected in 2020, which was dissolved in June 2022 by decision of the Crown Prince, Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the same source added.
According to lawyer Nawaf Al-Yassine, the decision to invalidate the last parliamentary elections follows several appeals that challenge the regularity of the procedures related to the vote. “The appeals concern the invalidity of the electoral process, the decrees calling for elections and the decree dissolving the previous National Assembly”he explained to Agence France-Presse.
Turbulence is holding back reforms
Kuwait is ruled by the Al-Sabah ruling family, which retains the keys to power, even though the elected officials have important prerogatives and do not hesitate to audition ministers belonging to the royal family who are accused of mismanagement or even corruption. Political parties are not banned or recognised, but many groups, including Islamists, act as de facto political formations. The current Emir, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, aged 85, remains withdrawn from political life in favor of the Crown Prince.
The government resigned on January 23, just three months after its formation, the latest episode in the deep political crisis that has rocked the country. Formed into the sixth government in three years, he was sworn into office in October following the opposition’s victory in parliamentary elections, hoping to end the political turmoil that has hampered any attempt at reform.
The resignation came as lawmakers planned to question two ministers over a debate over consumer loans and mismanagement of public finances in the wealthy state, one of the world’s top crude oil exporters.
The outgoing government had promised to tackle important issues such as development projects, anti-corruption and investment. Kuwait’s political instability has dampened investor appetites and hindered reform in this country, which is certainly wealthy but is struggling to diversify its economy, as its powerful neighbors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates are currently doing.