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Kuwait PM, govt resign after protests

Kuwait's prime minister and his government resigned on Monday, bowing to escalating demands by protesters and opposition deputies that he step down over corruption allegations.

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November 29, 2011 12:56 by



The oil-producing state has tolerated criticism of its government to a degree rare among its Gulf neighbours, helping to insulate it from the protest-driven political tumult that has helped topple four Arab leaders this year.

But tensions rose sharply this month when opposition lawmakers and protesters stormed parliament to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah.

“We decided to submit our resignation to comply with the national interest and due to the danger the situation had reached,” the state television channel reported Sheikh Nasser as saying.

The storming of parliament followed a request filed by a group of MPs to question Sheikh Nasser, which was blocked by the cabinet in a move decried as unconstitutional by the opposition.

Opposition MPs warned that if Sheikh Nasser did not step up to the questioning stand on Nov. 29, they would escalate their campaign against him.

In his letter of resignation, Sheikh Nasser criticised the “incitement of the street and the sowing of discord between the sons of Kuwait which damages national security and stability,” according to KUNA.

Kuwait has been locked in a long-running political battle between the government dominated by the ruling Al Sabah family and the 50-member elected parliament.

Sheikh Nasser cited the “negative practices” of unnamed groups that jeopardised national interests by undermining the cooperation between executive and legislative authorities as one of the reasons for his resignation.

“BLACK DAY”
The emir, who appoints the prime minister, who in turn forms a cabinet, accepted the government’s resignation, state news agency KUNA reported, in a turnaround from last week when he said he would not allow his premier to resign.

At least 45 people were arrested over the storming of parliament, described by the emir as a “black day”.

Earlier on Monday, parliamentary sources said if the resignation were accepted, it could take up to three months to form a new government. During that time parliament sessions would be suspended.

The parliament speaker told reporters after a meeting with the emir and members of the cabinet that he had not been informed of any decision to dissolve the assembly.

The opposition was due to go ahead with a protest outside the parliament building later on Monday despite the resignation.

“We hope that the next step is dissolving the parliament, because a quarter of the members were referred to the prosecutor over corruption allegations,” Islamist opposition lawmaker Dhaifallah Buramia told reporters.

Since Sheikh Nasser became prime minister in 2006, seven cabinets have been re-jigged and the emir has been pushed to dissolve parliament and call early elections three times.

The previous cabinet resigned in March to avoid parliamentary questioning of three ministers, the main weapon the elected body has against the government. (Reporting by Eman Goma and Mahmoud Harbi; writing by Isabel Coles; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Andrew Heavens)



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