Kuwait’s emir appoints new Cabinet with finance and oil ministers retained

Previous government resigned in January in a stand-off with parliament

Kuwait's Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah receives the members of the new government. KUNA

Kuwait's oil, finance and foreign ministers retained their posts on Tuesday as Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Sabah approved the country's latest Cabinet, state news reported.

The previous government resigned in January after a stand-off with parliament that posed the first big political challenge to the emir since he assumed power in September.

Oil Minister Mohammad Abdulatif Al Fares, Finance Minister Khalifa Hamade, and Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al Sabah were reappointed.

The previous government's resignation came after more than 30 members of parliament in the 50-seat assembly supported a motion to question Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid on matters that included his choice of ministers.

Since being reappointed prime minister on January 24, a post he has held since late 2019, Sheikh Sabah has held consultations with parliamentary blocs.

"The coming period requires co-operation with the legislative authority and the meetings brought points of view closer together," the prime minister said, as reported by Kuna news agency.

He stressed the need for agreeing a package of legislation, resolving "some political files" and uniting efforts to tackle "financial and administrative corruption" whether within or outside the government apparatus, Kuna said.

A priority is overcoming gridlock on debt legislation that would allow Opec member Kuwait to tap international markets to address liquidity problems caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus.

MPs opposed to the bill called for clarity on government plans to reduce reliance on oil exports.

Frequent disputes and deadlocks between the appointed Cabinet and elected assembly led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament, hampering investment and economic and fiscal reform.

Last month, Sheikh Nawaf, who has the final say in state matters, issued a decree suspending parliament's sessions for a month from February 18.

Kuwait's parliament can pass, and block, legislation and question ministers. Senior government posts are occupied by members of Kuwait's ruling family.

Kuwaiti opposition figures made gains in last year's parliamentary polls. Some proposed electoral reforms and a pardon for dissidents, many of whom are in self-imposed exile.

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