Kuwaiti lawmakers submitted a motion of non-cooperation against Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, a move that could lead to his ouster.
Parliament Speaker Jassim Al-Kharafi said legislators will vote on the proposal on June 23. The motion needs 25 supporters among the 49 elected members of parliament to pass. If approved, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah must either remove Sheikh Nasser, his nephew, from office or dissolve parliament and call fresh elections, according to Kuwait’s constitution.
The premier was questioned today in a closed session over the nation’s thawing of diplomatic relations with Iran, which lawmakers allege risks undermining ties with other Gulf states.
Waleed al-Tabtabaei, Mohammed al-Mutairi and Mubarak al-Waalan, lawmakers from Kuwait’s Sunni Muslim majority, asked to quiz the premier, saying the government is “harming Kuwait’s national security and ties with GCC states through its biased foreign affairs with the Iranian regime,” according to the request. The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
Tensions between the GCC and Shiite Muslim-led Iran have escalated since mainly Shiite protests started in Bahrain in February. Bahrain’s Sunni-led monarch has accused some Shiite activists of having links with Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi visited Kuwait last month, announcing that the two countries would exchange ambassadors again after a dispute over an alleged spy network operating in Kuwait led to both sides expelling each other’s diplomats. The lawmakers say the visit angered the Kuwaiti nation and “was arranged despite the exceptional and bad conditions” of the GCC states’ relations with Iran.
Shiite-Sunni tensions have flared in Kuwait in recent months, partly due to the sectarian unrest in Bahrain. Kuwaiti Shiites rallied against sending ground troops to the other Gulf Arab state, while Sunnis have demonstrated in favor of a deployment. Kuwait later sent a naval force to Bahrain.
Adding to tensions, a Kuwaiti court in March sentenced to death two Iranians and one Kuwaiti for spying for Iran. Iran has denied any link to the alleged spy network.
The request for today’s questioning of the prime minister was the second since May 10. Kuwait’s parliament on May 17 voted in favor of a government decision to postpone the questioning by legislators over issues including the government’s alleged failure to implement a 30.8 billion-dinar ($112 billion) development plan.
Sheikh Nasser has survived two non-cooperation votes in parliament since his appointment five years ago by the emir. The premier’s seventh Cabinet since 2006 was announced on May 8. Two days later, lawmakers filed their request to question Sheikh Nasser, only minutes after he had called for more cooperation between the executive and legislative branches.
Their disputes have led to repeated government resignations and stalled investment plans. The 50-seat elected National Assembly has been dissolved five times since the country introduced parliamentary democracy in 1962, most recently in March 2009.
The former government resigned on March 31 following requests by legislators to question three ministers from the ruling family over several alleged violations.
Kuwait is the fifth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and pumped 2.425 million barrels of oil a day in May, according to Bloomberg data.