KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait on Tuesday set June 26 as the day for by-elections to replace five lawmakers who resigned in protest after the largely pro-government parliament refused to question the country's prime minister over corruption allegations.
The lawmakers requested to step down from parliament over the past three weeks. Kuwait's Cabinet accepted their resignations on Monday. The Interior Ministry then announced a day later that new elections would be held in June, and that candidates can register to run starting this week until May 29.
Analyst Eman Ebed Alkadi of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a statement that the resignations give the government an opportunity to bolster its position in the already pro-government parliament. The analyst said two of the lawmakers who quit parliament were vocal critics of the government over the past several months and had "been a thorn in the leadership's side."
Safaa Al-Hashem, who was among the five lawmakers who resigned, was quoted in local Kuwaiti newspapers saying she quit because "the Cabinet and parliament are working together to rob the country of all its resources."
The lawmakers wanted to question Prime Minister Sheik Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah over deteriorating public services and corruption in government. At the government's request, the assembly rejected their request.
It is very rare for lawmakers to resign in Kuwait and for the government to hold elections for just those posts. Normally when there is gridlock between the Cabinet and the 50-member parliament, the ruler of Kuwait disbands the legislature and reshuffles Cabinet before calling new elections.
Kuwait has had six parliamentary elections since 2006 when ruling Emir Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah was sworn in. In each case, the legislature was disbanded and did not carry out its full four-year term.