Kuwait’s new government sworn in after reshuffle aimed at defusing tensions

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Kuwait’s crown prince swore in the new government on Monday, state news agency KUNA reported, following a reshuffle aimed at addressing lawmakers’ objections to the original cabinet line-up and ending a prolonged political feud.

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Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah has, since taking over most of the ruling emir’s duties, been trying to resolve a standoff between the appointed government and the elected parliament that has hindered fiscal reforms.

Several lawmakers publicly criticized the cabinet approved by Sheikh Meshal on Oct. 5 for not “reflecting” the results of early legislative elections in September, in which opposition members made big gains.

That prompted the crown prince to delay the opening of parliament, which was scheduled for last week. Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah then held talks with lawmakers and on Sunday, the Gulf OPEC oil producer announced several cabinet changes including new oil and foreign ministers.

New foreign minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah al-Sabah had previously served as Kuwait’s ambassador to the US and Korea and in the country’s delegation to the United Nations.

Bader al-Mulla, named oil minister, is a former lawmaker who had headed parliament’s budget committee. Oil policy in Kuwait, which is heavily dependent on oil income, is set by a supreme petroleum council.

Stalemates between Kuwait’s government and parliament have often led to cabinet reshuffles and dissolutions of the legislature over the decades, hampering investment and reforms.

The crown prince first appointed Sheikh Ahmad as prime minister in July after some opposition MPs staged a sit-in to press for a new premier, and then Sheikh Meshal dissolved parliament in August.

Former prime minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah had resigned in April ahead of a non-cooperation motion in the assembly against him.

Kuwait does not allow parliamentary parties so lawmakers campaign individually and form loose alliances.

The country still has one of the most open political systems in the Gulf, though the ruling emir has the final say in state matters.

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