Last updated: 12 June, 2012

Second minister quits Kuwait’s new cabinet

Kuwait’s Social Affairs and Labour Minister Ahmad al-Rujaib has resigned, becoming the second minister to quit the four-month-old cabinet, the official KUNA news agency reported Tuesday.

The emir of the oil-rich Gulf state, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, accepted the resignation and appointed Communications Minister Salem al-Othaina as the acting minister in the portfolio, KUNA said, citing a decree.

Rujaib’s resignation comes just a week before he was scheduled to be questioned in parliament by two opposition MPs over allegations of wide-ranging irregularities.

Former finance minister Mustafa al-Shamali stepped down last month after a marathon grilling in parliament by opposition lawmakers who accused him of squandering public funds and committing irregularities.

The current cabinet, headed by new Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah, was formed in mid-February following a snap general election in which the opposition won a majority in the 50-seat parliament.

Meanwhile, several opposition lawmakers called on Tuesday for the formation of a national salvation cabinet including many MPs from their ranks, amid reports of an imminent cabinet resignation.

Prominent opposition MP Mussallam al-Barrak called on the premier to form a cabinet that includes “at least nine members from the opposition.” The Kuwaiti cabinet comprises 16 ministers, including the prime minister.

“We are ready to participate in the government and are awaiting a response from Sheikh Jaber,” Barrak said in a statement.

Liberal opposition MP Abdulrahman al-Anjari said there was an urgent need to form a broad national government that includes representatives from all groups, or at least six members from the opposition.

Kuwait, OPEC’s third largest producer, has been rocked since 2006 by a series of political crises that led to the resignation of the cabinet several times and parliament being dissolved on four occasions.