Kuwait's PM pledges reform as new Cabinet sworn in

Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah called for positive co-operation with incoming parliament

Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah delivers his address during the 77th UN General Assembly in New York. EPA
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Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah has vowed to move swiftly forward with a reform agenda following a reshuffle of the Cabinet, which was sworn in on Monday.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah, in his position as deputy emir, swore in the new government after the reshuffle.

The reshuffle followed pressure from members of parliament who objected to the original line-up, which included ministers from previous governments. Parliament will be sworn in on Tuesday.

“We are working to implement a comprehensive programme of reform in all aspects of life in the country during the coming period,” Sheikh Ahmad said after being sworn in.

After taking the oath of office before the crown prince, the Kuwaiti prime minister stressed that positive co-operation with the parliament “will be an essential pillar for achieving the public interest”.

Several members of parliament, including an appointed minister, initially criticised the Cabinet approved by the crown prince on October 5 for not “reflecting” the results of the recently held snap 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.

Sheikh Ahmad then held last-minute talks with MPs and on Sunday announced several changes to the Cabinet, including new oil and foreign ministers.

New foreign minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Sabah previously served as Kuwait's ambassador to the US and South Korea, as well as in the country's delegation to the UN. His appointment effectively spells the end for Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al Sabah as Kuwait’s top diplomat following a turbulent time in office after surviving a vote of no confidence in February.

The new oil minister, Bader Al Mulla, is a former MP who had been the head of the parliament's budget committee.

The Kuwaiti government was forced to postpone the first session of its newly elected parliament until October 18. Constitutionally, parliament must hold its opening session two weeks following an election.

MPs attempted to gather on Sunday but 10 did not attend, in protest.

Parliament is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, when Sheikh Meshal is expected to preside over the opening session and deliver a speech calling for unity between the National Assembly and the government.

Political tension in Kuwait over the years has often led to Cabinet reshuffles as well as the dissolution of the legislature, hampering investment and reforms.

Updated: October 17, 2022, 2:25 PM