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Kuwait: domestic politics to test crown prince in push for fiscal reform

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The biggest task facing Kuwait's octogenarian crown prince after unexpectedly stepping in for the emir this month will be to tackle the perennial political feuding which has long blocked badly needed fiscal reform in the wealthy oil producing country.

Previously a low-profile figure who avoided public politics, little was known about Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, 81, who was security chief and then deputy of the National Guard before being named crown prince by his half-brother the emir in 2020. On 15 November, he was moved further into the spotlight when a frail-looking emir temporarily handed him most of his duties as Kuwait focuses on recovering from a coronavirus downturn, though higher oil prices have eased pressure on finances.

Before the handover, the emir undertook conciliatory moves to defuse a standoff between the government and the elected parliament that paralysed legislative work with only one regular session proceeding this year to approve the state budget.

"Kuwait needs to address its fiscal situation," commented Courtney Freer, a Fellow at Atlanta's Emory University. "I think the focus really will be getting the house in order........

© Middle East Monitor

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