Kuwait’s Constitution combines the positive aspects of both presidential and parliamentary forms of government. It is based on principles of democracy – on the sovereignty of the nation, freedom of the citizen and on equality of all citizens in the eyes of the law.
Kuwait’s Constitution was drafted by an elected 20-member Constituent Assembly and 11 ministers – who joined the Assembly later. On November 1, 1962, the draft constitution was approved by the then Amir, late Sheikh Abdallah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. The Constitution came into force on January 29, 1963, when the first National Assembly convened.
The Kuwaiti Constitution, comprising 183 articles is an exhaustive document.
It is divided into five parts:
- The state and the system of government
- Fundamental constituents of the Kuwaiti society
- Public rights and duties
- General and transitional provisions
- Unanimously proclaimed as Amir of the State of Kuwait on January 29, 2006.
- Prime Minister, as per Amiri Decree dated July 13, 2003.
- First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, October 18, 1992.
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, March 3, 1985.
- Minister of information, February 9, 1982 in addition to his posts as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Deputy Prime Minister, February 16, 1978, in addition to his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs. – Acting Minister of Information, February 2, 1971
- February 3, 1975, in addition to his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Foreign Minister, January 28,1963. His Highness continued to assume this post throughout all the governments that were formed since the Independence until April 20, 1991.
- Minister of Guidance and Information, January 17, 1962.
- Head of the Department of Press and Publications, 1955.
- Member of the Organizational Body of the Higher Council.
- Member of the Building and Construction Council.
- Completed his studies with private tutors.
- Educated at Kuwait schools.
- Born in Kuwait on June 6, 1929.
- Social Status: Widower, father to three sons and one daughter.
- Languages: Good command of English.
The Crown Prince is the Heir Apparent to the Amir of the State of Kuwait. According to the Constitution of the State of Kuwait, “The Heir Apparent shall be designated within one year at the latest from the date of the accession of the Amir. His designation shall be affected by an Amiri Order upon the nomination of the Amir and the approval of the National Assembly, which shall be approved by a majority vote of its members in a special sitting.”
Kuwait’s current Crown Prince is HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. He is the brother of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah. HH Sheikh Nawaf was born in 1937 and received education in several Kuwaiti schools.
HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah issued a decree on January 30, 2006, nominating HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as Crown Prince. The Amiri decree said that HH the Amir recommended HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for the Crown Prince’s post in accordance with Article 4 of the Constitution and law 4/1964 for Emirate Succession; and based on HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s recognised integrity and merit for the Crown Prince’s post.
HH Sheikh Nawaf has been a prominent figure who worked for the establishment and development of the State of Kuwait. He was appointed on Febraury 12, 1962 as Governor of Hawalli, which was his first political post.
On March 19, he was appointed as the Minister for Interior until he resigned on July 3, 1986. HH Sheikh Nawaf was then appointed again as the Minister for Interior in 1986 to serve at this post until he was reassigned as the Minister for Defence first on January 26, 1988 and again on June 20, 1992. On April 20, 1991, he was oppointed the Minister for Social Affairs and Labour to serve until October 17,1992. Two years later, on October 16, 1994, he was appointed as the Deputy Chief of the National Guards to serve until he was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior on July 13, 2003. HH Sheikh Nawaf was then appointed as the First Deputy Prime Minister on October 16, 2003, while he continued serving the an Interior Minister.
Among HH Sheikh Nawaf’s notable achievements was the creation of the Legal Department and the Mayors’ Affairs Department at the Interior Ministry. HH Sheikh Nawaf also played a significant role in the establishment of the Private Contracts Department and the Legal Department at Defense Ministry. He also established the Legal Affairs Undersecretary’s post at the Ministry of Social Affairs. During his term as Interior Minister, HH Sheikh Nawaf always stressed the significance of team work to preserve the unity of Kuwait.
In the humanitarian domain, HH Sheikh Nawaf established a hospital for social care centres during his term as the Minister for Social Affairs and sponsored several cultural, recreational and social activities for the National Guards personnel.
HH Sheikh Nawaf is the father of four sons and a daughter. Among his interests is horse riding.
Executive power in Kuwait is vested in the Cabinet or the Council of Ministers. It is headed by the Prime Minister, a position held traditionally by the Crown Prince. The Prime Minister is appointed through an Amiri Decree. The ministers of the Cabinet are appointed by the Amir on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. According to the Kuwaiti constitution, the number of ministers in a Cabinet must not exceed one-third the strength of the National Assembly. This number does not include the Head of the National Guard, the Amiri Diwan Affairs Minister, the Amir’s Advisor and the Chairman of the Audit Bureau.
The Cabinet controls the state institutions. It is responsible for the general policy of the government and its execution. Each minister in the Cabinet holds one or more portfolios. The Prime Minister and his ministers are accountable to the Amir and the National Assembly.
Besides executive powers, the Constitution grants the Cabinet authority to declare defensive war, proclaim martial law, promulgate law decrees when the National Assembly is not in session or its legislative term has expired, grant pardons, and issue executive and administrative regulations.
Kuwait’s New Government as formed on May 28, 2008 by Decree No. 133/2008
Prime Minister, His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohamed Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah
Kuwait has known the consultative system (Al-Shoora) since 1920. The first state consultative council in the region was formed during the reign of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The first elected legislative assembly was formed in the country in 1938 with 14 members. Though it was short-lived, it speaks volumes of Kuwait’s serious attempts to create democratic institutions way back in 1930s. Modern parliamentary life in Kuwait began on June 19, 1961 with the elections to the Constituent Assembly. This was followed by the first session of the National Assembly held on January 29, 1963.
The total strength of the Kuwaiti National Assembly is 50. The members are elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage and secret ballot. The legislative term is divided into annual sessions which are of no less than eight months’ duration; the legislative term may be extended by law in times of war or may be shortened if the Assembly is dissolved by a decree. In such an eventuality general elections will have to be held within two months from the date of dissolution.
Each of Kuwait’s 5 constituencies elects 10 members to the Assembly. Only Kuwaiti males and females who are 21 years of age have the right to vote. Candidates for the National Assembly must be Kuwaiti nationals and not under 30 years of age. The Assembly’s sessions are only valid when more than half of the total number of members are present. Every member has the right to initiate bills. The bill passed by the National Assembly becomes law after it is sanctioned by the Amir, and promulgated and published in the official gazette.
The National Assembly’s financial responsibilities include approval of the state budget and final accounts. The Assembly also supervises executive power through deferment means, like submitting questions, initiating discussions, and setting up commissions of inquiry. Such supervision can lead to a vote of no-confidence against a minister and result in his resignation. A vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister is not allowed, but the Assembly has the right of deciding not to cooperate with the Prime Minister. In such a case, the issue is taken to the Amir, who may either relieve the Prime Minister of office and appoint a new Cabinet or dissolve the Assembly and hold fresh elections.
TThe National Assembly has the right to set up standing as well as ad-hoc committees from among its members. These committees include Committee on Petitions and Complaints, Committee on Interior Affairs and Defense, Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs, Committee on Legislative and Legal Affairs, Committee on Affairs of Education, Culture and Guidance, Committee on Health, Social Affairs and Labor, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Public Utilities, Committee on Protection of Public Funds and the Committee on Defense of Human Rights.
The present Speaker of the National Assembly is HE Jassem Al-Khorafi