Kuwait replaces oil, finance ministers in reshuffle


Bader Mishari al-Humaidhi was moved from the finance to the oil ministry in a bid to spare him from being called to account in parliament after an Islamist MP filed a request to question him last week.

Last Monday, three MPs filed requests to quiz Humaidhi and Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdullah al-Maatuq over allegations of corruption. Maatuq was left out of the new line-up.

Under Kuwaiti law, moving a minister to another post exempts him from being called to account before parliament.

MPs had also threatened to summon several other ministers for questioning during the new session that begins on Tuesday, setting the stage for continued confrontation between the government and parliament.

Mustafa al-Shamali, a finance ministry undersecretary, was appointed finance minister, while Sheikh Jaber Khaled al-Sabah, a former army chief of staff, was appointed interior minister.

Besides the interior and finance ministers, the new government included two new faces — Jamal al-Shehab for social affairs and labour and justice and Abdullah al-Taweel, a former commerce minister, for the health portfolio.

The new line-up separated the defence and interior posts, keeping Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah as first deputy premier and defence minister, but taking away his interior ministry responsibilities.

Besides the prime minister, the new cabinet includes four members of the ruling Al-Sabah family who hold the key portfolios of defence, foreign affairs, the interior and information.

The strength of women was reduced to two to just one with Nuriya al-Sabeeh holding on to the education ministry.

Shiite Muslims, who make up a third of Kuwait’s citizen population of one million, maintained their representation of two ministers. They are Shamali and Minister of Public Works and Municipalities Mussa al-Sarraf.

Since its formation in March as the third Kuwaiti cabinet in less than 14 months, the ministers of oil, communications and health resigned in the summer following MPs’ threats to hold them to account.

The standoff between parliament and the government has been blamed for the slow pace of reforms and development in a country that has amassed financial assets of more than 200 billion dollars as a result of high oil prices.

The Gulf state of Kuwait sits on 10 percent of global crude reserves, although the figure has recently been questioned, and pumps 2.4 million barrels per day.


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