Kuwait Names Cabinet, Appoints Al-Hajraf as Finance Minister
Kuwait formed a new Cabinet today, its tenth since February 2006, amid tensions between the opposition, which held a majority in the dissolved parliament, and the government.
Hani Hussain was reappointed as oil minister and Nayef Al- Hajraf was named minister of finance in the 14-member Cabinet. The posts of defense, interior and foreign affairs were unchanged and held by members of the ruling Al-Sabah family.
The new government includes one woman, U.S.-educated Rola Dashti, who was appointed state minister for planning and development. Dashti, a lawmaker elected to the 2009 parliament, was also named state minister for parliamentary affairs, state media reported. Anas Al-Saleh was reappointed minister of commerce.
The Cabinet is headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al- Mubarak Al-Sabah, whose previous government resigned on June 25, five days after the Constitutional Court dissolved the parliament elected in February. The court reinstated the National Assembly elected in 2009.
“Kuwait is trying to deal with its political differences by buying more time,” Shafeeq Ghabra, a political science professor at Kuwait University, said by phone today. “The real issue is the new election and this is what society is waiting for.”
The opposition has called for new elections.
Sheikh Jaber was first appointed on Feb. 14 following Kuwait’s fourth election in six years, which came in the wake of an unprecedented campaign of protests against the administration over corruption allegations. Opposition candidates won more than 30 of parliament’s 50 seats and vowed to push for the transfer of more powers to the legislature.
Repeated clashes between lawmakers and the government over how to share power have led to a series of parliamentary dissolutions and Cabinet resignations in the country, the fourth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. That’s contributed to slower economic growth and delays to key investment projects.
The opposition movement includes Islamists, liberals and independents, as well as youth groups who draw inspiration from last year’s Arab uprisings. Some groups demand a constitutional monarchy and an elected government, while others say their focus is fighting corruption.
Opposition lawmakers have accused the government of delays in implementation of Kuwait’s $111 billion development plan, which includes expanding oil and gas production and infrastructure.
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