Qatari Foreign Minister To Lead New Cabinet


The state news agency QNA said Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, named the new members of the Qatari cabinet in a decree after accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani.

The new government, in which Sheikh Hamad will also remain foreign minister, was sworn in on Tuesday, it said.

Qatar’s Energy Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah retains his post in the OPEC oil-exporter that is also home to the world’s third largest gas reserves. He also stays on as a deputy prime minister.

Other important portfolios, including finance and the interior, remained the same.

A Foreign Ministry official said the cabinet was reshuffled because there had been no change to the government for some time. He declined to comment on its policies but analysts said they hoped it would introduce more democracy and development.

Qatar is a political maverick in the largely conservative Gulf region. Qatar’s emir seized power from his father in a coup in the mid-1990s. He has since changed the constitution and introduced municipal elections. Qatar held municipal elections for the third time on April 1 and the emir has promised partial parliamentary elections this year.

"Qatar wants to introduce more dynamism into politics rather than appoint prime ministers or officials for life, as is usually the case in the Gulf," said former Justice Minister Najib Mohammed Al-Naimi.

"The foreign minister was a natural choice because he has been first deputy prime minister for some time and he comes from inside the political fold."
Sheikh Hamad has been a high profile foreign minister. Qatar played an active role in trying to end the war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas and trying to negotiate between divided Palestinian factions last year.

Qatar is a close U.S. ally and hosts the U.S. military’s Central Command. The Gulf Arab state has limited ties with Israel but also has close ties with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organisation.

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