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Kuwait names cabinet with opposition MPs, new finance minister | Politics News

The new cabinet of Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah represents Kuwait’s fourth government in the past year and a half.

Kuwait has formed a new cabinet with a new finance minister and three opposition MPs after a standoff between previous governments and parliament.

Oil Minister Mohammad al-Fares has been reappointed to the new cabinet announced on Tuesday.

Abdul Wahab al-Rasheed, head of the non-governmental Kuwait Economic Society, replaced Khalifa Hamada as finance minister.

The new health minister is Khaled al-Saeed, whose predecessor had guided Kuwait through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement of a new cabinet broke a months-long deadlock with the appointment of 15 new ministers to tackle a range of political and financial challenges.

This is the Gulf state’s third cabinet this year after previous governments resigned in the deadlock that had hampered state efforts at fiscal reform.

The government has tried to temporarily boost finances as more structural and fiscal reforms stall, including a debt bill to tap international markets.

The dispute has delayed a review of Kuwaiti’s social security system and prevented the sheikh from taking on debt, leaving him with little cash to pay inflated salaries in the public sector.

State media said Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who had taken steps to resolve the deadlock, approved the cabinet despite handing over most of the constitutional duties in November to the Crown Prince, who issued the cabinet formation decree.

OPEC member Kuwait bans political parties, but has given its legislature more leverage than comparable bodies in other Gulf monarchies, including the power to pass and block laws, question ministers and file mistrust of senior government officials.

The cabinet has only one female minister. It includes three opposition MPs and one pro-government legislator, unlike previous governments which normally include only one MP.

Opposition MPs were given the National Assembly’s information, social and affairs portfolios.

“The government is trying to dismantle the opposition front… by including some parliamentarians in the government formation,” Kuwaiti political analyst Mohammed al-Dosari told Reuters news agency.

He said several opposition members are still calling for the departure of the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.

Several lawmakers had urged to question Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid, prime minister since late 2019, on various issues, including handling the pandemic and alleged corruption.

Kuwaiti analysts suggested on social media that the new appointments could weaken the rule of opposition lawmakers in parliament who have blocked government reforms. More MPs now have tribal representation in the new cabinet and can be persuaded to support the government.

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