Ex-defence minister takes up role after Sheikh Nasser, cabinet stepped down
Kuwait's emir named outgoing Defence Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah as new prime minister on Wednesday, after the resignation of the government during the oil state's deepest political crisis in years.
The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, called on his nominee to form a government, in a decree carried on the official state news agency KUNA.
The move comes two days after the cabinet resigned following the storming of parliament earlier this month by protesters and opposition deputies demanding the then-prime minister quit over corruption allegations.
Parliamentary sources said on Wednesday they expected the ruler would now dissolve parliament within the next few days, and call for elections, with the new cabinet serving as a caretaker until the vote.
Kuwait, an OPEC oil-producer, has tolerated criticism of its government to a degree rare among its Gulf neighbours, helping to insulate it from the protest-driven political tumult that has helped to topple four Arab leaders this year.
But tensions rose sharply this month when opposition lawmakers and protesters stormed parliament to demand the resignation of the outgoing Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, a nephew of the emir.
"Most of the lawmakers are still demanding the [parliament] dissolution, because it has already lost its credibility among the citizens after it has been plagued by corruption," said Ahmad al-Dayeen, a liberal political columnist.
Kuwait has been locked in a long-running political battle between the government dominated by the ruling al Sabah family and the 50-member elected parliament.
The standoff between parliament and the government has pushed Kuwait from one political crisis to the next and delayed key economic reforms and projects.
Since Sheikh Nasser became prime minister in 2006, seven cabinets have been re-jigged and the emir has been pushed to dissolve parliament and call early elections three times.
The previous cabinet resigned in March to avoid parliamentary questioning of three ministers, the main weapon the elected body has against the government.
Changes at the top of the oil ministry usually do not have an impact on the energy policy of the OPEC producer, which is usually among the top six world crude exporters
A welcomed decision. Good for Kuwait.