Kuwait’s Emir Dissolves Parliament Second Time This Year

Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Mishaal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, announced the dissolution of Parliament and certain constitutional articles over a televised speech on Friday, May 10th.

The Emir suspended some articles of the country’s constitution for four years, and all aspects of the current democratic process will be “studied.” Local state TV reported that the power of the National Assembly will be managed by the Emir and the nation’s cabinet.

Additionally, the Emir added: “Kuwait has been through some hard times lately, which leaves no room for hesitation or delay in making the difficult decision to save the country and secure its highest interests.”

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a speech, dissolving parliament. Source: Yasser al-Zayyat, AFP.

The Emir issued further statements, pointing out corruption within the leadership of Kuwait, stating that “no one is above the Kingdom’s Law,” how Kuwait must make a “difficult decision to save the country,” and how the nation must “face unbearable difficulties and obstacles.”

Second Time this Year

Kuwait dissolved its parliament in February 2024 in a similar fashion after tension between the newly created government and members of parliament, which created a political stalemate in the country.

The announcement was made after a boycott of a parliamentary session by ministers, who gave a speech by MP Abdul Karim Al Kandari. The speech mentioned criticism of parliament and the Emir’s cabinet, made by Emir Sheikh Mishaal al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Cabinet members believed the speech was targeted toward the Emir, who previously demanded changes from the country’s executive and legislative branches during his inaugural speech after assuming the role in December 2023.

Kuwait Parliament Building. Source: Khalid Almasoud/Creative Commons

Political stalemates and deadlocks prevented the nation from introducing reforms to the Kuwaiti economy, which also suffered from low foreign investment and budget deficits, causing frustration among the general public. The Emir warned there is “no room” for resolving political scores between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Kuwait’s parliament has been dissolved over 24 times since 2006. The cause of this February 2024 dissolution was reportedly “more personalized” compared to past incidences, based on reports from Kuwait analysts. 

Analysis 

The Emir of Kuwait’s dissolution of parliament was to root out the aforementioned dysfunctional parliament since they couldn’t pass economic reforms and diversify the oil-dependent economy.

Public pressure to pass these reforms could also be a significant reason the parliament was dissolved, as there are many complaints from the general population surrounding the economy. Disputes made the nation unable to take on debt due to many changes to the welfare system. 

There aren’t many funds left to pay the salaries of the public sector, despite the income from oil reserves. 

Parliament dissolutions can sometimes be done to trigger an election in the country. The last election was in April 2024, which resulted in 29 opposition party members taking seats in the National Assembly. 

Dissolving parliament right after this election may be due to the majority of parliament being in control of the opposition, potentially triggering more political gridlock.

Evan Berridge
Evan Berridge
Analyst reporting on mostly Indo-Pacific affairs, covering a wide variety of topics. Started in January 2024

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