KUWAIT Aug 7 Kuwaiti lawmakers boycotted a
parliament session on Tuesday to foil another attempt to swear
in a new cabinet - a move that makes the assembly's dissolution
likely and throws the U.S. ally into more turmoil.
It was the second such boycott in a week, and the decision
rattled the Kuwaiti stock market.
The dispute centres on a ruling by Kuwait's constitutional
court in June that effectively dissolved a parliament dominated
by opposition Islamists and reinstated its more
government-friendly predecessor, elected in 2009.
Only four members of the 50-seat assembly and five ministers
from the 15-member new cabinet turned up for the parliament
"We could not convene the session due to the lack of a
quorum and I will not call for another session," National
Assembly speaker Jassim al-Kharafi said. "I will take the matter
to his highness the emir."
Analysts expect Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad
al-Sabah, to dissolve parliament in order to allow a new
election, widely expected to be held after the Muslim holy month
of Ramadan, which ends in the second half of August. The last
elections were in February.
The stock market index fell 0.4 percent to 5,708 points on
Tuesday, nearing the six-and-a-half-month low it hit on July 31,
when the parliament first failed to swear in a new cabinet.
State news agency KUNA last week quoted some lawmakers as
saying that the government had encouraged some of them to skip
the session so that the parliament can be dissolved.
The constitutional court's decision to reinstate the old
parliament angered Kuwaiti opposition politicians, who said the
previous assembly had been tarnished by corruption allegations.
Political turmoil is not new to Kuwait, which has seen eight
governments come and go in just six years. The infighting has
held up legislation and investment, turning the oil-producing
country into a laggard.
Kuwait, a U.S. ally and one of the world's richest countries
per capita, is home to an outspoken parliament with legislative
powers but the ruling al-Sabah family maintains a firm grip on
Main cabinet posts are held by ruling family members and the
83-year-old emir has the final say in politics.
Kuwait has not experienced the kind of mass popular
uprisings that have swept the Arab region since last year, but
tensions have grown between the cabinet and opposition lawmakers
pushing for a say in government.