Shamali returns in new cabinet
Ali Rashed MP gains edge over Omair for speaker
KUWAIT: The new Cabinet of Kuwait was formed yesterday and issued in a decree by HH the Amir, and included one of the biggest surprises that will certainly antagonize the opposition. The new Cabinet brought back veteran former finance minister Mustafa Al- Shamali who was forced to resign in May following a grilling by the opposition over allegations of corruption and mismanagement, which he categorically denied.
Shamali, also made the deputy prime minister, was the opposition’s number one foe, especially in the annulled 2012 national assembly which was under the opposition’s control. Shamali is expected to be charged with implementing the KD 30.7 billion four-year development plan, which is way behind schedule. Also, former state minister for national Assembly affairs Sharida Al-Maosherji was appointed as minister of awqaf and Islamic affairs and minister of justice. The move is seen as a reward for the wing of the Salafists who backed the government and campaigned for the election and against those who boycotted it, including the majority of Salafists who sided with the opposition.
Thekra Al-Rasheedi, one of three women who won seats in the Dec 1 boycott-hit polls, was appointed minister of social affairs and labour, raising the number of women to two along with Rola Dashti, who was retained as state minister for development and for National Assembly affairs. The new Cabinet retained the ministers of interior, foreign and defense, along with the minister of information who was appointed as state minister for Cabinet affairs and municipality. All four are members of the ruling family. A fifth ruling family member, Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, was appointed as information minister, being promoted from the undersecretary post. Among the other new faces are Mubarak Al-Haifi as health minister.
It is clear that the new composition of the Cabinet rewards those who participated in the election and penalizes those who did not. In another development, MP Ali Al-Rashed appears to be headed to become the speaker of the new Assembly after one member of the 17 Shiite MPs said yesterday that they will back Rashed to become the next speaker. MP Ahmad Lari said that the Shiite MPs, who form the largest bloc in the 50-seat Assembly, will vote for Rashed, known for his good relations with the Shiites. No other Shiite MP, however confirmed the statement. Rashed’s main competitor is Islamist Salafist MP Ali Al-Omair who was the likely candidate for the past few days.
Omair had banked on the support of some Shiite MPs in his battle for speakership. MP Ahmad Al-Mulaifi, a former minister, is also contesting for the post along with a few others whose chances are very slim. The race is expected to be settled by the 16 votes of the Cabinet ministers whose role is expected to be evident in the second round of voting when Omair will be facing only Rashed. The two lawmakers are both pro-government MPs and it was initially reported that the government will allow its ministers a free hand to vote for either one.
Meanwhile, several former opposition MPs yesterday rejected invitations sent out by the secretariat of the Assembly to attend the inaugural session of the Assembly. Faisal Al-Mislem sent the invitation back, telling Secretary General Allam Al-Kandari not to send him such invitations in the future as long as this Assembly remains.
Ali Al-Rashed MP