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Kuwait government 'to step down'

kuwaiti government
Ministers resigned en masse to see off parliamentary grilling

The Kuwaiti government has submitted its resignation to the emir.

However, the official news agency said Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah would not decide immediately whether to accept it.

The move follows demands by some MPs to question the prime minister over the recent visit of an Iranian Shia cleric accused of insulting Sunni Muslims.

Three Islamist MPs took offence to remarks the cleric made about some companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

The resignations are the latest in a series of political crises in Kuwait.

Ministers led by the Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad al-Sabah, walked out of parliament as it was about to set a date for the questioning session.

Without the government in attendance, parliament is not able to proceed with any business.

Dissolution?

In the past, Sheikh Sabah has reshuffled governments or dissolved parliament to head off questioning sessions and the votes of confidence that often follow.

MPs are unable to question the same minister for the same reason following a ministerial reshuffle. The current cabinet is the third formed since March 2007.

The walkout of the government was a surprise to everyone. It's an indication that parliament might get dissolved
Deputy Abdullah Rai al-Fahma
The Kuwaiti parliament has a reputation for being one of the most independent of any in the Gulf states.

But the willingness by some MPs to question the prime minister, a member of the royal family, is still controversial.

The three Islamist lawmakers have not confined their criticism of the prime minister to theological matters.

They have also accused him of corruption and allowing public services to deteriorate.

There are fears that another political crisis in this oil-producing state could further delay key economic reforms intended to respond to the global economic slowdown.

The government had hoped to pump extra cash into the Arab world's second largest stock exchange and to set up a new financial regulatory system.

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