Kuwait emir approves new Cabinet

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) — Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah approved Monday a new 16-member Cabinet that remains dominated by the ruling family despite the opposition’s victory in June elections.

But Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmed Fahd Al Sabah — a nephew of the emir — and State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Mohammed Daifallah Sharar, who have come under fire from the opposition, were ousted from the government.

The energy portfolio in oil-rich Kuwait was given to Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah, the outgoing minister of social affairs and labour.

Sheikh Ali is an ex-banker and economist.

Sheikh Ahmed and Sharar were both severely criticised by opposition candidates during the election campaign and accused of “promoting corruption and blocking reforms”. They both deny the charges.

After the election results were released on June 30, several opposition MPs vowed to call the prime minister to account before parliament if the two ministers were retained in the new Cabinet.

Six ministers in the new line-up are members of the ruling Al Sabah family, including Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Ahmed Al Sabah. The family also continues to hold the key posts of interior, defence, foreign affairs and energy.

Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah was retained as first deputy premier and minister of defence and interior, while Sheikh Mohammed Al Sabah was retained as deputy premier and foreign minister.

The new government still includes just one woman minister — Maasouma Al Mubarak, who was moved from the planning ministry to communications.

The Cabinet has three new faces — Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah as minister of social affairs and labour, Fahd Al Hajeri, the only elected MP in the government, as minister of commerce and industry, and Shiite politician Abdulhadi Al Saleh as minister of state for national assembly affairs.

As in the previous Cabinet, there are two representatives of the Shiite minority in the new government. The other is the communications minister.

The Cabinet was formed following parliamentary elections last month in which the opposition won a resounding victory, securing 33 of the 50 elected seats.

The haul was enough to give the opposition a majority even when the 15 ministers who are not MPs take up their automatic right to a seat in parliament.

It was the first election in the Gulf state’s history in which women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates. However, they did not win a single seat.

Under Kuwaiti law, the new Cabinet does not require a vote of confidence from parliament but MPs have the right to declare non-cooperation with it.

The new parliament is due to convene on Wednesday.

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