Kuwaiti cabinet reshuffle aims to create harmony between government and legislator

By bne IntelliNews January 8, 2014

In a broad cabinet reshuffle, Kuwait’s Emir retained some old cabinet members, replaced others and appointed about half of a new cabinet with new appointees perceived to have clean hands. Resignation of the previous cabinet thought to be technocratic in nature was precipitated by continuous interpellations by parliamentarians of cabinet members for alleged corruption and conflict of interest.

The finance ministry went to Anas Al Saleh, a former minister of commerce and industry, who had come from the private financial industry. He is given the challenging task of reviewing and implementing cuts to Kuwait’s costly universal subsidies system. The oil ministry was assigned to Ali Al Omair, a Salafist parliamentarian with no previous experience in the petroleum industry, replacing Mustafa Al Shamali, a technocrat who formerly managed the finance minister. Al Omair was one of three Salafists, a puritanical sect of Islam, appointed to the cabinet in an obvious attempt by Al Sabah family to create greater homogeneity between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Frictions between the two branches due to corruption allegations and obstructive parliamentary tactics by the Kuwaiti branch of the Muslim brotherhood had held up the implementation of major infrastructure developments projects in Kuwait in the past. Compared to previous cabinets, the new cabinet is likely to have better chances of survival partly due to the perceived uprightness of its members and in part due to limiting the participation of the ruling Al Sabah family members down to only three in charge of foreign affairs, interior and defence portfolios compared to five ministries in the previous cabinet.

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