Last Updated: Thu Oct 28, 2010 18:04 pm (KSA) 15:04 pm (GMT)

Kuwait emir warns against sectarian Feuds, Chaos

Political tensions have forced Kuwait's emir to dissolve parliament three times since May 2006 (File)
Political tensions have forced Kuwait's emir to dissolve parliament three times since May 2006 (File)

Kuwait's emir on Tuesday opened the new parliamentary term by issuing a stern warning against political chaos and sectarian tensions that have bedeviled the oil-rich Gulf state.

"There are limits that all must comply with... Law must be fully respected otherwise things become chaotic... putting at risk our national security and national unity," Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said.

Political disputes between the government and MPs have rocked Kuwait since 2006, delaying major projects and stalling development despite abundant cash thanks to high oil revenues.

Political tensions have forced the emir to dissolve parliament three times since May 2006, and Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah has had to form five cabinets over the same period.

The current cabinet, formed at the end of May last year, is in fact the longest-serving Kuwaiti government since early 2006. The current parliament was elected in May 2009.

The Kuwaiti ruler also warned of "mischievous plots" targeting the foundations of society and of attempts to plunge the emirate into "religious and political conflicts."

Sectarian tensions between the country's Shiite minority and Sunni majority flared in September after self-imposed Shiite exile Yasser al-Habib made disparaging remarks about the Prophet Mohammed's wife, Aisha.

Eventually the government stripped him of his Kuwaiti citizenship and vowed to take legal measures against him.

Sheikh Sabah warned that it has become necessary to "take a series of firm measures, including issuing certain legislation, to put an end to the chaos."

Ahead of the new parliamentary term, MPs have threatened to grill the prime minister and several other ministers over an array of issues, including allegations of failure to implement laws and various violations.

In a speech, the Kuwaiti premier vowed that the government will strictly implement multi-billion-dollar projects outlined under the emirate's first development plan in 25 years, which was approved by parliament in February.

He said that in the first year of the four-year $105-billion plan, which is the current 2010/2011 fiscal year, about 900 projects worth $ 17.8 billion are slated.

Major projects that have already started include the first phase of a modern container harbor at Bubiyan Island and a number of power generation projects to raise electricity production capacity by 1,360 megawatts, he said.

The government also plans to set up a public authority to oversee Bubiyan Island and the $ 77-billion Silk City project in nearby Subbiya, north of Kuwait City, Sheikh Nasser said.

Kuwait has posted a budget surplus in each of the past 11 fiscal years, amassing assets estimated at $ 230 billion, but has failed to implement any major development project in the past decade.

The Gulf state sits on about 10 percent of proven global oil reserves and currently pumps around 2.3 million barrels per day. It has a native population of 1.18 million, besides 2.4 million foreign residents.

The prime minister also announced a comprehensive plan to resolve the problem of around 100,000 bidoon or stateless Arabs, who have been deprived of basic rights for the past several years amid criticism by international rights bodies.

Sheikh Nasser said the plan will take into account security, humanitarian, social and economic factors, without elaborating.

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