Kuwait Reappoints Former Finance Minister Targeted by Opposition

Kuwait reappointed Mustafa Al-Shimali as finance minister, almost seven months after he resigned following questioning by the dissolved opposition-dominated parliament.

Oil Minister Hani Hussein was also reappointed in the new government line-up announced late yesterday. It is the fourth cabinet to be formed by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah since he was appointed in November 2011.

Two women, Rola Dashti and Thikra Al-Rasheedi, were named state minister for planning and development, and minister of social affairs and labor, respectively. Al-Rasheedi was one of three women elected in Dec. 1 parliamentary polls. Kuwaiti cabinets must include at least one elected lawmaker. The key posts of defense, interior and foreign affairs were retained by members of the ruling Al-Sabah family, who have five portfolios in the new cabinet.

Al-Shimali, who was also named as a deputy prime minister, resigned on May 24 after being interrogated for 11 hours by opposition lawmakers who alleged financial irregularities in institutions under his authority. Al-Shimali, first appointed finance minister in October 2007, denied all the accusations.

Kuwaiti Shiites secured 17 seats in the new 50-member National Assembly elected Dec. 1. The polls were boycotted by the opposition, a broad-based movement led by former lawmakers and a mix of Sunni Islamists, liberals, tribal members and youth groups. The opposition has led street protests in the country during the past year and is demanding political reform and more power sharing with elected politicians.

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