Kuwait names new oil minister as cabinet formed

The government has seven new faces including Essam Al Marzouk who was named minister of oil, electricity and water.

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KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait’s prime minister formed a cabinet Saturday that includes a new oil minister but keeps all the ruling family members, following elections in which the opposition performed well.

The government has seven new faces including Essam Al Marzouk who was named minister of oil, electricity and water.

Mr Al Marzouk, a member of a merchant family, was a board member in national oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp and also the head of the Kuwait Bourse Company.

Besides prime minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah, the cabinet includes five members of the Al Sabah royal family.

But Sheikh Mohammad Khaled Al Sabah, the former interior minister and a senior royal, was moved to the defence post, apparently after many opposition MPs vowed to grill him over the revoking of citizenships of several opposition activists.

The defence minister in the previous cabinet, Sheikh Khaled Jarrah Al Sabah, who is also a member of the ruling family, was given the interior portfolio.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah, a royal, was also retained.

Anas Al Saleh remained the finance minister in the new cabinet despite strong criticism for his economic policies which included reducing subsidies and raising the price of petrol.

Several MPs have vowed to question him if he was retained in the cabinet.

The Kuwaiti governmen resigned last month as required by the constitution following the November 26 general election in which the opposition and its allies won nearly half the seats in parliament.

The 50-member legislature is scheduled to start meeting on Sunday.

The Islamist-dominated opposition has vowed to oppose the government’s austerity measures in the face of low oil revenues.

The reappointment of Sheikh Jaber, 73, who has held the post since late 2011, came despite calls by a number of opposition MPs for a new premier to reflect the result of last month’s polls.

The opposition groups boycotted two general elections in 2012 and 2013 in protest at a change in the voting system brought unilaterally by the government.

Under Kuwait’s constitution, the emir has the sole power to appoint the premier regardless of the outcome of polls.

The new cabinet is not required to have a vote of confidence from parliament.

*Agence France-Presse