Arab World

 

18. Kuwait > Constitution and Government


 

CONSTITUTION

Kuwait has been ruled by the Al Sabah family since the middle of the eighteenth century and has maintained her independence apart from a period from 1899 when she entered into a Special Treaty of Friendship with Britain. This treaty ended in 1961 when Kuwait again took full control of her affairs.

The constitution was introduced in 1963 under which terms a 50 member National Assembly is elected every four years. The Assembly passes all laws and approves the heir apparent who is nominated by the Emir. The Emir appoints the Prime Minister, who appoints his Ministers. Kuwait is the only Arab country in the Gulf region with a directly elected parliament. Suffrage is extended only to literate males over the age of 21 who have held Kuwaiti citizenship for more than 20 years. Women and those serving in the police and the armed forces are excluded from the right to vote.

The National Assembly was dissolved by the Emir in 1986 following a disagreement about its right to scrutinise ministers. During his exile, following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, the Emir reinstated the Assembly in return for the support of opposition leaders.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

In August 1990 Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, occupying it for seven months, following a unilateral Iraqi decision to annex the country. The action was condemned by the United Nations and the Islamic Conference Organization, and in January 1991 allied forces began Operation Desert Storm aimed at the withdrawal of Iraqi forces. In February 1991 Iraqi forces left Kuwait and in November 1994 Iraq officially recognised Kuwait's borders, sovereignty, and political independence. In 2003 Kuwait allowed US led coalition forces to be based there ready for the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein from Iraq. Since Saddam Hussein was deposed, Kuwait has contributed both humanitarian aid and to the reconstruction effort.

RECENT EVENTS

In December 1999, the all-male parliament narrowly rejected a Bill to give women the vote, with a result of 32-30. It was widely believed that women would win their right to vote from 2003, but two MPs who had backed their campaign abstained and one voted against.

In March 2005 the parliament agreed to speed up plans to pass a law to grant women the same political rights as men. In May of that year a law was passed giving women the right to vote, and in June Massouma al-Mubarak was appointed Minister for Planning and Administration, the first female minister in Kuwait.
The Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jabie Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah died on January 15 2006. He was succeeded by Crown Prince Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, who ruled for just nine days before being replaced due to ill health. Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah was voted to replace him in the post of Emir, having previously been in the post of Prime Minister.

In March 2007, the government resigned following a no-confidence motion against the health minister. A new cabinet was appointed, which included two women. In June 2007 the Minister for Oil Sheikh Ali resigned.

In March 2008 the parliament was dissolved, following disputes between the ministers and MPs. The cabinet resigned en masse, and elections were held in May. Following pressure from the National Assembly the entire cabinet offered their resignation on 25 November 2008 this was accepted and Shaikh Nasser was asked to form a new cabinet. This was appointed in January 2009, and was largely unchanged.

The prime minister offered the resignation of his government in March 2009 and an election was called for May 2009. A reshuffled cabinet was announced on 29 May.

LEGISLATURE

Kuwait has a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma, is made up of 50 elected members, two from each constituency elected for a four-year term. The Council of Ministers or Cabinet is appointed by the Emir and is led by the Prime Minister. Other members are appointed from the National Assembly and the Al Sabah family. A vote by the National Assembly has been held which will reduce the number of constituencies to five, each one being represented by 10 members; the first time voting will follow this rule will be the 2011 elections.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

Majlis al-Umma
P.O. Box 716
13008, Safat
Tel: +965 245 5423
Fax: +965 242 6190
E-mail: webadmin@alommah.gov.kw
URL: http://www.kna.org.kw

CABINET (AS MARCH 2010)

Prime Minister: Sheikh Nasser al-Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah
First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence: Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs: Rashid al-Hamad
Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs: Sheikh Ahmad Al_Fahd al-Jabir al-Sabah
Minister of Oil and Information: Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Ahmad al-Sabah
Minister of the Interior: Lt.-Gen. Sheikh Jabir Khalid al-Jabir al-Sabah
Minister of Trade and Industry: Ahmad Rashid al-Haroun
Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs: Roudhan Abudlaziz al-Roudhan
Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs: Fadhil Safar Ali Safar
Minister of Education and Higher Education: Moudi Abdulaziz al-Houmoud
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Mohammad al-Afasai
Ministry of Finance: Mustapha Jasmin al-Shamali
Minister of Communications: Mohammed al-Baseri
Ministry of Electricity and Water: Bader al-Azemi
Minister of Health: Helal al-Sayer
Minister of State for Amiri Diwan Affairs: Nasir Al-Sabah al-Jabir al-Sabah
Minister of State for Development and Housing Affairs: Ahmad Al-Fahd al-Jabir al-Sabir
Minister of State for Municipal Affairs: Fadhil Safar Ali Safar
Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs: Muhammad Mushin al-Basiri

MINISTRIES

Office of the Prime Minister, PO Box 4, 13001 Safat, Kuwait City. Tel: +965 539 1111, fax: +965 539 0430, e-mail: info@dpm.gov.kw, URL: http://www.dpm.gov.kw
The Council of Ministers, PO Box 1397, Safat 13014. Tel: +965 245 5333 / 487 7422, fax: +965 481 8028 /4 87 6656

Ministry of State for National Assembly, PO Box 1397, Safat 13014. Tel: +965 467 7422/245 5333, fax: +965 486 4319
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 3, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 242 5141 / 9, fax: +965 241 2169, e-mail: info@mofa.org, URL: http://www.mofa.gov.kw
Ministry of Defence, PO Box 1170, Safat 13012. Tel: +965 484 8300 / 481 9623, fax: +965 483 7244 / 484 6059, e-mail: modkw@ncc.moc.kw, URL: http://www.mod.gov.kw
Ministry of Interior, PO Box 12500, Shamiya 71655. Tel: +965 243 3804 / 243 3806 / 243 3840 / 252 4199 / 252 33091, fax: +965 256 1268 / 252 3228 / 243 6570, URL: http://www.moi.gov.kw
Ministry of Communications, PO Box 318, Safat 11111. Tel: +965 481 9033 / 481 3777, fax: +965 481 8696 / 484 7058, URL: http://www.mockw.net
Ministry of Information, PO Box 193, Safat 13002. Tel: +965 241 5301 / 241 5302 / 242 7151 / 242 7141, fax: +965 241 9642 / 244 4715, e-mail: info@moinfo.gov.kwja, URL: http://www.moinfo.gov.kw/
Ministry of Justice, PO Box 6, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 248 0000 / 246 5600 / 246 7300, fax: +965 243 3750 / 246 6957, URL: http://www.moj.gov.kw
Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, PO Box 13, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 246 6300, fax: +965 244 9943, e-mail: info@awkaf.net, URL: http://www.awkaf.net
Ministry of Commerce and Industry, PO Box 2944, Safat 13030. Tel: +965 246 3600, fax: +965 242 4411 / 241 1089
Ministry of Electricity and Water, PO Box 12, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 489 6000, fax: +965 489 7484
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, PO Box 563, Safat 13006. Tel: +965 246 4500 / 248 0000, fax: +965 241 9877
Ministry of Oil, PO Box 5077, Safat 13051. Tel: +965 241 5201, fax: +965 241 7088
Ministry of Public Works, PO Box 8, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 244 9300/ 244 9301, fax: +965 242 4335 / 242 8362, e-mail: mciinfo@qualitynet.net, URL: http://www.mpw.gov.kw
Ministry of Public Health, PO Box 5, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 246 2900 / 484 2795, fax: +965 243 2288 / 484 0056, URL: http://www.moh.gov.kw
Ministry of Education, PO Box 7, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 483 6800 / 245 5454, fax: +965 483 7829 / 242 3676, e-mail: minister@moe.edu.kw, URL: http://www.moe.edu.kw
Ministry of Higher Education, PO Box 27130, Safat 13132. Tel: +965 240 1300 / 240 7334, fax: +965 245 6319 / 240 6224
Ministry of Finance, PO Box 9, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 246 8200 / 246 7300, fax: +965 240 4025, e-mail: sbader@mof.gov.kw, URL: http://www.mof.gov.kw
Ministry of Planning, PO Box 15, Safat 13001. Tel: +965 242 8100 / 242 8200, fax: +965 241 4734 / 240 7326, URL: http://www.mop.gov.kw
National Housing Association, PO Box 23385, Safat 13094. Tel: +965 471 7844 / 471 7832 / 246 7300 / 242 8802, fax: +965 242 8801

ELECTIONS


In the 2006 elections, for the first time women were allowed to stand for election and vote in a national election, but no women were elected. Opposition candidates (reformists, liberals and Islamists) won almost two-thirds of the seats. Another election was held in May 2008. Again no women were elected, and radical Islamists won more than half the seats. Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah was re-appointed prime minister.

The emir called another election in 2009, just one year after the last election after the prime minister offered his government's resignation on 29 March. Sunni Islamists remain the largest group in parliament. Independents won 21 out of the 50 seats. Four women were elected.

DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION

Embassies of Kuwait

The Netherlands
Embassy of Kuwait
Carnegielaan 9
2517 KH The Hague
Tel: +31 (0)70 3603813/5
Fax: +31 (0)70 3658398
Email: kuwait.embassy@wxs.nl

United States
Embassy of Kuwait
2940 Tilden Street
N.W. Washington DC 20008
Tel: +1 202 966 0702
Fax: +1 202 966 0517

United Kingdom
Embassy of Kuwait
2 Albert Gate
Knightsbridge
London, SW1X 7JU
Tel: +44 (0)20 7590 3400
Fax: +44 (0)20 7823 1712
E-mail: kuwait@dircon.co.uk
URL: http://www.kuwaitinfo.org.uk

United Nations
Permanent Mission of Kuwait
321 East 44th Street
New York NY 10017
USA
Tel: +1 212 973 4300
Fax: +1 212 370 1733
E-mail: kuwaitmission@msn.com

URL: http://www.kuwaitmission.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embassies in Kuwait

British Embassy
Arabian Gulf Street
PO Box 2
13001 Safat
Kuwait City. Tel: +965 240 3334, fax: +965 240 7395, e-mail: general@britishembassy-kuwait.org, URL: http://www.britishembassy-kuwait.org
Ambassador: Stuart Laing

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Jabriyah, Area 9, Street 1, House 76
P.O. Box 21822
Safat 13079
Tel: +965 2531 2650 / 1 / 2 / 3
Fax: +965 2532 6334
E-mail: KWE@minbuza.nl
URL: http://www.netherlandsembassy.gov.kw/

US Embassy
Area 14, Al-Masjed Al-Aqsa Street
PO Box 77
Safat, 13001 Safat
Tel: +965 539 5307 / 5308
Fax: +965 538 0282
E-mail: usisirc@qualitynet.net
URL: http://kuwait.usembassy.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Copyright © 2010 Koninklijke Brill NV. For more information please visit www.brill.nl
 



This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
    Project     Legal notice     Press     Contact
Copyright 2011 by learningarabic