kuwait new pm-1704374659909
Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah's anti-corruption stance at a delicate time in Kuwait’s history back in 2011 earned him the high respect of Kuwaitis. Image Credit: AFP

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s new ruler announced his prime minister on Thursday as he bids to end the chronic political stalemate afflicting the Gulf nation.

Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who was sworn in as emir last month, named Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, a popular ex-foreign minister, as the new premier.

He replaces Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, son of the late emir.

Also read

Kuwait has most active and powerful parliament.

But repeated standoffs between elected lawmakers and cabinet ministers installed by the ruling family have stymied development efforts and scared off investors.

The Harvard-educated Sheikh Mohammad, also son of a former emir, was Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States for 10 years and then served as foreign minister until stepping down in 2011.

Political deadlock

His resignation in the middle of a political crisis was interpreted as an act of protest against the government, which had been accused of mismanagement and corruption.

“His anti-corruption stance at a delicate time in Kuwait’s history back in 2011 earned him the high respect of Kuwaitis,” Badr Al Saif, a Kuwait University political analyst, told AFP.

Kuwait has seven per cent of the world’s crude reserves, little debt and one of the world’s strongest sovereign wealth funds in the world. It adopted a relatively robust parliamentary system in 1962.

But political deadlock between the elected parliamentarians and appointed ministers has blocked reforms to diversify the economy, while Kuwait has also suffered repeated budget deficits and low foreign investment.

At his swearing-in ceremony, the 83-year-old emir Sheikh Meshal strongly criticised parliament and the cabinet, saying they had “harmed the interests of the people and the country”.

According to Kuwaiti analyst Ayed Al Mannaa, the new prime minister - who is expected to appoint his cabinet later this month - has “the diplomatic experience and academic qualifications necessary to implement the reforms envisaged” by the emir.

“We need... a government made up of competent people and statesmen who are not scared of being questioned by the parliament,” he told AFP.