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Few new faces in Kuwait’s new government

Controversial finance minister Al Shamali was reappointed

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 13:18 December 12, 2012
  • Gulf News

Kuwait: Kuwait’s prime minister reappointed Oil Minister Hani Hussain in his new cabinet and brought back veteran policymaker Mustafa Al Shamali as finance minister, state news agency Kuna reported on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, who was reappointed by the emir last week, had been expected to select the new cabinet after a parliamentary election on December 1.

It is the fourth cabinet to be formed by Jaber Al Mubarak since he was appointed in November 2011.

The new 15-member government, which was approved by ruling emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, faces the task of implementing investment plans and economic reforms after years of political turmoil in the Gulf Arab state.

Al Shamali resigned from goverenment in May following questioning by by former opposition MPs over alleged corruption and mismanagement charges which he denied. He was also appointed as deputy premier. Kuwait has held five parliamentary elections since mid-2006 and has appointed more than 10 governments.

The ‘sovereign’ portfolios of defence, interior and foreign affairs were retained by members of the ruling family, who have a total of five portfolios in the new cabinet.

Analysts say the new parliament could prove more government-friendly than its predecessor which was dominated by opposition MPs. The assembly holds its first session next Sunday.

There were few changes in the top cabinet posts, which are traditionally held by ruling family members. Interior Minister Shaikh Ahmad Al Hamoud Al Sabah held onto his portfolio as did Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Khalid Al Sabah.

Al Shamali makes his return to the cabinet after being forced to step down in May due to pressure from opposition MPs who accused him of mismanagement, accusations the long-serving official denied. Nayef Al Hajraf, reappointed as Education Minister, had also held the finance ministry portfolio in the interim.

Al Shamali served as finance minister from 2007 and had worked for more than four decades in the ministry before stepping down earlier this year.

Hussain, who has been oil minister since February, is a former chief executive at Kuwait’s Petroleum Corporation and was seen as having inside knowledge of the industry. His influence is limited, however, as oil policy is set by an oil council.

Two women, Rola Dashti and Thikra Al Rasheedi, were named state minister for planning and development, and minister of social affairs and labor, respectively. Al-Rasheedi was one of three women elected in December 1 parliamentary polls. Kuwaiti cabinets must include at least one elected lawmaker.

Box:

Kuwaiti: Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, formed a new 16-member cabinet on Tuesday.

The cabinet has retained most of the key ministers in the previous government. Following is the line-up of the 32nd cabinet since Kuwait gained independence in 1961:

- Prime Minister: Shaikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah

- First Deputy Premier, Interior: Shaikh Ahmad Al Humud Al Sabah

- Deputy Premier, Foreign Minister: Shaikh Sabah Khalid Al Sabah

- Deputy Premier, Defence Minister: Shaikh Ahmad Khalid Al Sabah

- Deputy Premier, Finance Minister: Mustafa Al Shamali (new)

- Minister of Oil: Hani Hussain

- Minister of Education and Higher Education: Nayef Al Hajraf

- Minister of Commerce and Industry: Anas Al Saleh

- Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs: Sharida Al Meosharji (new)

- Minister of Communications and Housing: Salem Al Othaina

- State Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Municipalities: Shaikh Mohammad Mubarak Al Sabah

- Minister of Health: Mohammad Barrak Al Haifi (new)

- Electricity and Water and Public Works: Abdul Aziz Al Ebrahim

- Planning, Development and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs: Rula Dashti

- Minister of Social Affairs and Labour: Thekra Al Rasheedi (new)

- Minister of Information and State Minister for Youth Affairs: Shaikh Salman Sabah Al Sabah (new)

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