New faces in new Cabinet, but lawmakers unimpressed

KUWAIT: The new government was finally announced yesterday, exactly six weeks after the previous Cabinet resigned over a dispute with lawmakers. MPs had filed a no-confidence motion against former state minister for Cabinet affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, who was left out of the new Cabinet. There were no surprises or changes from the list published by Kuwait Times yesterday, as the son of HH the Amir Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was given his first ministerial posting as the first deputy premier and defense minister, the senior-most position in the Cabinet after the prime minister.

HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah was retained as the prime minister for his seventh Cabinet since he was appointed to the post exactly six years ago. Other top positions were filled by members of the Al-Sabah ruling family, with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah and Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah retaining their posts. Beside Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah, former defense minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah was left out.
The new cabinet includes a new minister of oil and electricity and water, Bakheet Al-Rasheedi, a former top official of Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC), in addition to a new finance minister Nayef Al-Hajraf, the former head of the Capital Markets Authority. Hajraf also served as finance minister a few years ago.

The new Cabinet included nine new faces and saw a number of former Cabinet members given new portfolios. It now has two female members after the addition of Minister of Housing and Services Jenan Bushehri. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh, the other female member, was retained in the same post and immediately greeted by some lawmakers with grilling threats.

Opposition MP Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei said he will hold consultations with other lawmakers to grill Sabeeh. Subaei had threatened to grill the minister if she was retained. Pro-government MP Saadoun Hammad said the reappointment of Sabeeh will trigger a new political rift, adding that if she is grilled, MPs will file a no-confidence motion against her.

The new Cabinet was greeted with mixed reactions. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said with nine new faces, the new Cabinet should be given the chance to perform and urged MPs to judge ministers by their performance and not names. MP Saleh Al-Fadhalah said the new Cabinet does not deserve to stay in place, since it lacks statesmen and the appointments were made on political considerations. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani charged that the Assembly speaker played a role in the Cabinet’s formation.

Liberal MP Rakan Al-Nasef said he will assess the new ministers by their performance and not by names.
In another development, the Assembly’s legal and legislative committee said a proposal calling to lower the voting age to 18 from the current 21 and to allow servicemen to vote is in line with the constitution. The final decision on the subject will be made by the interior and defense committee.

By B Izzak and A Saleh


This article was published on 11/12/2017