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Sat 30 May 2009 09:37 AM

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No change to key posts in new Kuwaiti cabinet

Ministers for oil, foreign affairs, defence and interior remain the same.

No change to key posts in new Kuwaiti cabinet
LIMITED CHANGE: Kuwaits post-election cabinet remains largely unchanged but four women were voted in as MPs for the first time. (Getty Images)

Kuwait's prime minister announced a new 16-member cabinet on Friday with no changes to key posts in a team that resigned in March after a dispute with a parliament that was later dissolved.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, approved the lineup presented by Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, state television reported.

The ministers of defence, interior, oil finance and foreign affairs stay on.

This is the sixth cabinet to be formed by Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the emir, since he was first appointed in February 2006.

His five previous governments resigned over confrontations with parliaments and after MPs filed several requests to quiz the prime minister.

The previous cabinet resigned after only two months in office following a showdown with parliament over a bid by five Islamist MPs sought to question the premier.

The oil-rich emirate has been rocked by a series of political crises over the past three years ending in the dissolution of three parliaments.

The new cabinet follows a May 16 general election in which four women were elected for the first time and the number of Islamist deputies was cut by half. It has only one Islamist minister.

But liberal political analyst Anwar Al-Rasheed said it will not be able to resolve the lingering political crisis.

"The new cabinet line-up adds nothing new. I am certain crises will return sooner than later as nothing has changed and it is unlikely the new cabinet will present a development plan," Rasheed said.

Besides the prime minister, the new cabinet includes five members of the Al-Sabah ruling family, the same number in the previous cabinet.

They continue to hold the key posts of defence, interior, foreign affairs, oil and information.

The new team sees the return of former energy minister Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, who was appointed to the new post of deputy premier for economic affairs, as well as minister for housing and development.

Sheikh Ahmad was dropped following the June 2006 election under pressure from opposition MPs who accused him of corruption, charges he strongly denied and that were never proved in court.

Current Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Sabah, only appointed to the post in February, was also given the information portfolio.

Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali also kept his post.

Ahmad Al-Haroun, a former top official at Kuwait's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was appointed commerce and industry minister.

Women's representation was reduced to one from two in the previous cabinet.

Mudhi al-Humoud was moved from housing to education and higher education, while Nuriya Al-Sabeeh was dropped.

MPs expressed mixed reactions on the new cabinet.

Mubarak Al-Waalan said it is a "crises government and the next few days will prove that," while MP Dulaihi al-Hajeri called for the new cabinet to present a development plan soon.

Maasouma Al-Mubarak said it is a cabinet of "mostly technocrats" but regretted that it only has one woman, while Saad Al-Khanfur said lawmakers should extend a hand of cooperation to the new cabinet.

The team has seven new faces, including Bader Al-Azemi, an engineering professor at Kuwait University, who was appointed electricity and water minister.

It also has three liberal ministers and one Islamist, besides two members of the minority Shiite community -- Shamali and the minister of public works and municipalities, Fadhel Safar.