Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, has resigned, local media reported Tuesday, amid tensions over a graft scandal involving several MPs.
Citing “high ranking” sources, Al-Anbaa newspaper said Sheikh Mohammad, who has been foreign minister in the oil-rich Gulf state since 2003, “submitted his resignation on Monday and did not attend the cabinet meeting.”
“The minister preferred to resign from a government that does not carry out true reforms regarding the (illegal) multi-million bank deposits,” the term used to describe the scandal, the daily cited the sources as saying.
The resignation was reported by most of Kuwait’s local media outlets but the government has so far not commented.
The resignation will only be considered official when it is accepted by Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
If approved, Sheikh Mohammad will become the second senior ruling family member to quit the cabinet since June when former deputy premier Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah resigned over an alleged power struggle with the prime minister.
The move came as Kuwait’s opposition mounted a campaign demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah’s government.
The public prosecutor last month opened a probe into the bank accounts of about 14 MPs in the 50-member parliament on allegations they received some $350 million in “political” bribes.
The resignation of the Harvard-educated minister came as leading opposition lawmaker Mussallam al-Barrak threatened to make public classified documents about alleged overseas money transfers through Kuwaiti embassies.
The opposition has alleged that some of the funds were transferred to bank accounts held by some MPs abroad, linking them to the graft scandal at home.
Barrak, who sent a list of questions to Sheikh Mohammad over a month ago about the issue, threatened Monday that he would make the documents public at an opposition rally if he does not receive the answers by Wednesday noon.
The lawmaker however distanced Sheikh Mohammad from the allegations.
Opposition MPs plan to file a request to question the prime minister on Thursday over allegations the government failed to deal appropriately with the corruption scandal.
Kuwait, OPEC’s third largest oil producer, has been rocked with almost continuous political disputes since Sheikh Nasser became premier in February 2006, stalling development despite abundant oil income.