Last updated: 13 December, 2011

Kuwait Prime Minister forms new cabinet with minor changes

Kuwait’s new Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah on Tuesday formed a new cabinet that comprised only 10 ministers with just small changes in the line-up, state television reported.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree approving the new government, the eighth cabinet since February 2006. All previous cabinets were forced to resign because of political disputes.

All key ministers in the previous government, which resigned on November 28 over corruption allegations, were retained but the three ministers who quit a few days earlier were dropped.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Humud Al-Sabah, who held the interior post in the previous government, was also given the defence portfolio, while Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah was retained as foreign minister.

The ministers of finance, oil, and electricity and water remained the same. Besides the premiership, members of the ruling Al-Sabah family also hold the portfolios of defence, interior, foreign affairs and information.

No date has so far been set for the new elections which must be held within 60 days of the 50-seat parliament being dissolved.

The new compact cabinet will serve for only several weeks to oversee the polls because under Kuwaiti law the cabinet must resign after declaring election results.

Former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah resigned after allegations of corruption and huge rallies demanding his ouster organised by the opposition in the oil-rich Gulf state.

The resignation was followed a week later by the ruler dissolving parliament for the fourth time in under six years.

Kuwait has been rocked by a series of almost non-stop political disputes since Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the emir, was appointed premier in February 2006.

The parliamentary opposition has targeted Sheikh Nasser, 71, claiming that he failed to stop widespread corruption and to run the wealthy state efficiently.

Just days before he resigned, three former opposition lawmakers filed to question him in parliament over a corruption scandal involving around 15 members of the now dissolved body.

They also accused him of transferring millions of dollars of public funds into his own overseas bank accounts, an allegation strongly denied by the government.

Kuwait is OPEC’s third largest producer, pumping around 3.0 million barrels of oil per day. It has a native population of just 1.2 million besides 2.4 million foreign residents.

Despite accumulating massive assets exceeding $300 billion from high oil prices, development projects have been stalled because of the political turmoil.