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Kuwait Forms New Cabinet Retaining Oil Minister

Kuwait Forms New Cabinet Retaining Oil Minister

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree Tuesday naming a new cabinet that retained the oil minister and brought back the finance minister who was ousted by the opposition.

The 16-member cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah, came after snap polls that were boycotted by the opposition in protest over an amendment of the electoral law of oil-rich Kuwait.

Hani Hussein was reappointed as oil minister while Mustafa al-Shamali, who was forced to resign in May as finance minister, was brought back with added responsibilities.

The opposition's foe was appointed as deputy premier and finance minister. Shamali resigned after he was grilled by former opposition MPs over alleged corruption and mismanagement charges which he denied.

The cabinet has six members of the al-Sabah ruling family, one more than the previous government: the prime minister and the ministers of defense, interior, foreign, information and a state minister for cabinet affairs.

The ministers of commerce, development and communications remained unchanged in the cabinet that has five new faces and two female ministers, up from one in the last government.

The previous cabinet, also headed by Sheikh Jaber, resigned last week in a routine process following the election which was widely boycotted by the Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition.

The opposition has vowed to continue protests until the downfall of the new parliament, entirely dominated by pro-government MPs, and the scrapping of the disputed amendment to the electoral law.

The new cabinet is Kuwait's 11th since 2006. The oil-rich emirate has since been hit by a series of political crises, forcing 10 cabinets to resign and parliament being dissolved on five occasions.

Constant disputes between the governments and MPs have stalled development in this wealthy Gulf state which has surpluses of around $400 billion thanks to high oil prices over the past 12 years.

Kuwait, which says it sits on 10 percent of global oil reserves, pumps around three million barrels of crude per day. It has a native population of 1.2 million and 2.6 million foreign residents.


Copyright 2007