Kuwait swears in fourth government in two years

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A new Kuwaiti government was sworn in on Wednesday, the oil-rich Gulf emirate’s fourth in two years, after the last one resigned in November amid political deadlock.

Kuwait has been shaken by disputes between elected lawmakers and successive governments dominated by the ruling Al-Sabah family for more than a decade, with parliaments and cabinets dissolved several times.

The last government called it quits in November in the face of a standoff with parliament over reforms.

The cabinet was sworn in before the crown prince, the official KUNA news agency reported.

It is the fourth government that Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah has formed since his appointment as prime minister in December 2019.

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

Oil Minister Mohammed al-Fares and Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed Al-Sabah retain their posts in the reshuffle.

However, the new lineup includes a critical voice in Finance Minister Abdulwahab Al-Rushaid, who earlier this month called on government to “focus on a sustainable economy rather than on the fluctuations of oil prices”.

Like most Gulf countries, Kuwait’s economy and public finances have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the slumping price of oil.

In last year’s elections, the opposition and its allies won nearly half of parliament’s 50 seats.

The polls were the first since the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf, took power on the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah, at the age of 91.

In recent years there have been mounting calls for reform in Kuwait, where expatriate residents make up 70 percent of the 4.8 million population.

AFP

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