Kuwait's government resigns in latest standoff with parliament

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Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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KUWAIT, April 5 (Reuters) - Kuwait's government submitted its resignation on Tuesday, state news agency KUNA reported, ahead of a no-confidence vote against the prime minister in parliament, amid a lengthy political feud that has hindered fiscal reform in the Gulf oil producer.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who took over most of the ruling emir's duties late last year, received the government's letter of resignation from Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid, KUNA reported.

Sheikh Sabah, a member of the ruling al-Sabah family and premier since late 2019, has faced a combative legislature as the head of successive cabinets, with opposition MPs bent on questioning him over issues including perceived corruption.

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The vote in parliament, called a non-cooperation motion, was scheduled for Wednesday. The current government was appointed in December, the third in 2021 as the standoff with the elected parliament dragged on.

Kuwait has given its assembly more influence than similar bodies in other Gulf states, including the power to pass and block laws, question ministers and submit no-confidence motions against senior government officials.

Fitch Ratings downgraded Kuwait in January to 'AA-' from 'AA', citing "ongoing political constraints" hindering its ability to pass a debt law and address a heavy reliance on oil, a lavish welfare system and a bloated pubic sector.

The octogenarian emir, before delegating duties to his designated successor, also in his 80s, tried to end the impasse by pardoning dissidents in an amnesty sought by opposition lawmakers. Kuwait does not allow political parties. read more

Kuwaiti political analyst Nasser al-Abdali said some ruling family members were using parliament to push their agenda as they jostle for power, worsening hostilities.

"There is a generational struggle inside the ruling family," he told Reuters. "It is expected that the resignation will be accepted and a new prime minister appointed."

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has taken palliative measures to temporarily boost finances while more structural reforms remain deadlocked, including the debt law.

While higher oil prices have offered some relief, Kuwait has been unable to issue international debt since 2017. read more

Perennial feuding has led to frequent cabinet reshuffles or dissolution of parliament holding up investment and reform.

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Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy in Kuwait and Lina Najem in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ed Osmond

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