Kuwait forms cabinet with new oil, finance ministers

Kuwait forms cabinet with new oil, finance ministers
Kuwait's new government, whose formation was due after parliamentary elections earlier this month, has 10 new faces.

2 min read
14 December, 2020
Kuwait voted earlier this month [Getty]
Kuwait formed Monday a cabinet that includes new oil and finance ministers, state media reported, amid calls for reform in the country whose economy is reeling from slumping crude prices.

Like most wealthy Gulf nations, oil-rich Kuwait's economy and state budgets have been slammed by the double whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and the depressed price of oil.

The new government, whose formation was due after parliamentary elections earlier this month, has 10 new faces. 

These include Mohammed Al-Fares who was named minister of oil and Khalifa Hamada who was appointed as finance minister, according to the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).  

Fares is a board member in national oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp, while Hamada served as finance ministry undersecretary for over a decade.

The 15-member cabinet is the first to serve under the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who took office in September following the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

Besides Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, who was re-appointed premier by the emir earlier this month and tasked with forming the new government, the cabinet includes four members of the Al-Sabah family - which has ruled Kuwait for two and half centuries. 

Sheikh Thamer Ali Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah was appointed interior minister, while Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah was named deputy prime minister and minister of defence.

Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah retained his post as health minister, and Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah as foreign minister.  

"It appears to be a relatively technocratic government," analyst Ayed al-Manaa told AFP.

Political analyst Anwar al-Rasheed said people hope that the new government will have a different approach to managing issues, saying the old ways had led to "widespread dissatisfaction".

It is the second government in less than a year after the previous cabinet stepped down in November 2019 amid accusations of corruption and infighting. 

The new line-up includes a woman, one less than the previous cabinet, with Rana Al-Fares retaining her post as minister of public works.

Kuwait is the only Gulf state with a fully elected parliament that enjoys wide legislative powers and can vote ministers out of office.

Earlier this month, candidates belonging to or leaning towards the opposition won nearly half of the parliament's 50 seats in legislation elections, with the sole women lawmaker losing her seat.

Kuwaitis have expressed in recent years their desire for change and reform in their country, where 70 percent of the 4.8 million population are foreigners. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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