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Sheikh Meshal sworn in as the 17th ruler of Kuwait

Kuwait, 20 December, 2023 (GNP): Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah was officially sworn in as the country’s 17th ruler, succeeding his half-brother, the late Sheikh Nawaf, in a formal ceremony before lawmakers.

The new Emir, aged 83, used the occasion to address pressing national concerns, criticising both the parliament and cabinet for neglecting the country’s interests.

Expressing his commitment to fulfilling national obligations, Sheikh Meshal highlighted the absence of corrective measures from the parliament and cabinet, noting that their actions had detrimentally affected the populace and the nation.

The short-lived rule of his predecessor was marred by prolonged political deadlock, leading to multiple parliamentary dissolutions and cabinet resignations. Sheikh Meshal, in his address, pointedly criticized flawed public appointments and promotions that lacked justice and fairness standards.

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Promising immediate action, the Emir declared a temporary halt on promotions and new appointments, building on a prior decree issued on December 5, which initiated a three-month suspension of state hiring, subject to extension.

Addressing the nation’s challenges and crises, Sheikh Meshal urged a comprehensive reassessment of the country’s current reality across all facets.

Following the Emir’s speech, the government submitted its resignation as a procedural step, paving the way for the selection of a new prime minister.

Kuwait, renowned for its significant crude reserves and strong sovereign wealth funds, grapples with persistent tensions between elected officials and the ruling Al-Sabah family. These rifts have hindered economic diversification efforts, exacerbating budget deficits and deterring foreign investment.

Professor Bader Al-Saif of Kuwait University praised Sheikh Meshal’s speech, describing it as one of the most assertive first addresses by an incoming ruler. He highlighted the unprecedented rebuke of both the government and parliament, signaling a strong stance from the new Emir.

Sheikh Meshal, known for his extensive tenure in Kuwait’s security and intelligence sectors, now faces the crucial task of selecting a crown prince and appointing a prime minister, pivotal decisions that will shape relations with the active opposition-led parliament.