KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – The emir of Kuwait has launched an unprecedented attack on parliament, accusing it of stalling development and blaming the constitution for lingering political turmoil.
“Parliament has disappointed the aspirations of the Kuwaiti people,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview published on Monday and cited by the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.
The emir is in Germany at the start of a European tour that will also include Italy and the Vatican.
“It (parliament) has wasted a golden opportunity and a long time discussing issues totally far away from development projects,” the emir said.
“What the people say, that parliament has obstructed development and has been engaged in impotent political debates, is true and this was acknowledged by the lawmakers themselves,” he said.
The oil-rich Gulf state has been rocked by a series of political crises over the past four years, when parliament was prematurely dissolved three times and snap elections were held. The last election was last May.
Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a nephew of the emir, has been under constant political pressure by opposition MPs, forcing him to resign five times since he was appointed in February 2006.
The Kuwaiti ruler also blamed the constitution for causing political turmoil because it is a combination of both presidential and parliamentary systems.
“It is neither presidential nor parliamentary but a combination of both. This leads to overlapping of authority between parliament and the government and eventually results in disputes,” he said.
As a result of this system, parliament is stronger than the government and MPs want to force through popular decisions which defy logic, Sheikh Sabah said.
Kuwait became the first Arab state in the Gulf to have a constitution and parliament in 1962. However, the chamber has been suspended twice for a total of 11 years and was dissolved four times because of political disputes.