Kuwait's new emir calls for national unity ahead of elections

Credit: REUTERS/STEPHANIE MCGEHEE

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah called on Tuesday for national unity to meet challenges facing the Gulf state, in a speech to lawmakers ahead of planned parliamentary elections on Dec. 5.

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KUWAIT, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah called on Tuesday for national unity to meet challenges facing the Gulf state, in a speech to lawmakers ahead of planned parliamentary elections on Dec. 5.

The elections come at a time when the wealthy OPEC member state is facing a liquidity crisis caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, and the government is trying to boost state finances to plug a budget deficit.

"National unity has proven to be our strongest weapon in facing challenges, dangers and crises," said the emir, who assumed power last month following the death of the oil-producing state's previous ruler.

Frequent clashes between cabinet and parliament have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament, hindering investment and reform efforts. The outspoken assembly, the Gulf region's oldest legislature, wields power to block bills and question ministers.

Addressing the opening of a supplementary parliamentary legislative session, the emir said the country would continue the approach taken by the former emir, and that Kuwait remained committed to democracy, the constitution and the rule of law.

Kuwait's cabinet on Monday approved a draft decree for parliamentary elections to be held on Dec. 5. The emir must still approve the decree.

(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous and Ahmed Hagagy Writing by Lisa Barrington Editing by Catherine Evans and Philippa Fletcher)

((lisa.barrington@thomsonreuters.com;))

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