Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah has initiated an amnesty process to pardon political dissidents and critics as part of wider political reforms in the country. The amnesty decision is expected to include the self-exiled parliamentarians who fled imprisonment after taking part in the 2011 storming of the parliament over alleged corruption and mismanagement by the government.
Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah tasked the parliament speaker, the prime minister and the head of the supreme judicial council to recommend the terms and conditions of the amnesty, before it is issued as a constitutional decree by the Emir himself. The heads of the three government branches met yesterday to discuss the directives of the Emir. The details of who will benefit from the amnesty have not been announced.
Sheikh Nawaf hopes the amnesty will reduce ongoing political tensions in the country, and create more parliamentary consensus needed to enact further reforms. Amnesty was one of the core conditions of opposition lawmakers ease the political deadlock. Efforts to secure an amnesty were spearheaded in the parliament by some 40 lawmakers who appealed to the Emir.
Speaker of the parliament (National Assembly), Marzouk Al-Ghanem welcomed the Emir’s directives commenting on Twitter that the profiles of Kuwait’s leaders are that of wisdom, transcendence and tolerance.
Besides political reform, Kuwait badly needs fiscal and economic reforms but the government needs the support and trust of the parliament in the process. In light of the pandemic, Kuwait is considering a shift from a rentier economy based on oil exports to a more diversified economy.
The IMF commented that efforts to resolve the political impasse between government and parliament could pave the way for accelerating the reform momentum.
Kuwait has a unique governing system in the Gulf region as citizens share the power with the royal family through the parliament. However, differences between the government and the parliament have paralyzed the political process multiple times since 2006. With the amnesty expected soon, Kuwaitis look hopeful towards ending the crisis mode the country has been in for a long time.