SPEAKER URGES GOVERNMENT BE GIVEN CHANCE TO WORK
KUWAIT CITY, Dec 11: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Monday at Sief Palace His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. During the reception, His Highness the Premier presented the new formation of the State of Kuwait Cabinet.
His Highness the Amir swore in the new government on Monday, with the defence ministry being handed to Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who is the eldest son of HH the Amir.
New oil and finance ministers were also appointed. The move comes weeks after the previous government, which had been formed a year ago, resigned following a dispute with members of parliament who filed a no-confidence motion against a senior minister.
The 16-member cabinet features nine newcomers, including changes at the oil and finance ministries. Bakheet Al-Rasheedi, a former top oil executive, replaces the outgoing oil minister Essam Al-Marzouk. Nayef Al-Hajraf, former head of the Capital Markets Authority, will take over the finance ministry from Anas Al-Saleh who was appointed as state Minister for Cabinet Affairs.
The previous Cabinet resigned at the end of October after opposition lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, then the state minister for cabinet affairs. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim said on Monday that the newly formed government should be given an opportunity to work with Parliament in order to make progress on the political front.
Al-Ghanim told reporters that Parliament should “lend a hand to the new government and mutual cooperation is needed to fulfill the aspirations of the Kuwaiti people.” Meanwhile, he revealed that the freshly appointed ministers, nine of whom are newcomers, have been invited to attend Parliament’s regular session on Tuesday.
Kuwait’s chief lawmaker encouraged MPs to offer their viewpoints on the new government lineup, saying that parliament will make up for lost time due to the former government’s abrupt resignation. On a request made by the former government for a special parliamentary session on Tuesday to enact a spate of new legislation, he said it would be saved for forthcoming regular sessions.
In response to another request for an extraordinary session to discuss the Jerusalem issue, Al-Ghanim said that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al- Hamad Al-Sabah assured him via telephone that the government is ready to make it happen. He pointed out that the foreign minister is currently unavailable due to other commitments and the session will be postponed to a later date.
Below is the new Cabinet lineup presented by His Highness the Prime Minister.
■ Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah: First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense
■ Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
■ Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
■ Anas Khaled Al-Saleh: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs
■ Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf: Minister of Finance
■ Hind Sabeeh Barrak Al-Sabeeh: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Economic Affairs
■ Khaled Nasser Al-Roudhan: Minister of Commerce and Industry and State Minister for Youth Affairs
■ Mohammad Nasser Al-Jabri: Minister of Information
■ Dr Bassel Humoud Hamad Al- Sabah: Minister of Health
■ Bakheet Shibeeb Al-Rasheedi: Minister of Oil, Electricity and Water
■ Jinan Mohsin Ramadan: State Minister for Housing and Services Affairs
■ Hamid Mohammad Al-Azmi: Minister of Education and Higher Education
■ Hussam Abdullah Al-Roumi: Minister of Public Works and State Minister for Municipality Affairs
■ Adel Musaed Al-Kharafi: State Minister for National Assembly Affairs
■ Fahad Mohamad Al-Afasi: Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs
Commenting on the new government formation, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) pointed out in a press statement that the new government consists of elements with the same form.
The alliance revealed there have been comments on some of the newly-appointed ministers, especially those who were appointed based on electoral deals.
The alliance praised the exclusion of some former ministers but stressed that assessing the performance of the new government will be based on the implementation of reforms, achievements, respect for the Constitution, maintaining public freedoms and protection of public funds. It also stressed the need for the new government to be serious in taking reform steps starting with supporting pro-reform laws.
This is in addition to proper implementation of laws under parliamentary pressure and elimination of corrupt leaders before being held accountable by lawmakers. It added that the current situation in the Gulf and the entire region necessitates full cooperation between the legislative and executive authorities, particularly in the implementation of political and economic reforms. It emphasized the need to open channels of communication with all parties to maintain political stability and achieve development goals.
On the other hand, MP Faraj Zaban Al-Arbeed hopes the new government will achieve the development goals of the country and prioritize the interests of citizens.
He considers the 60 percent change in the government as a sign of willingness to address pending issues. He urged the new government to improve services and work towards the realization of development goals in line with HH the Amir’s vision to transform the country into a global financial and economic center. He added the lawmakers will monitor and assess the performance of the government in the first three months, indicating the new ministers should not remain on their seats as they need to go out to know the aspirations of the people and work towards the realization of these aspirations.
Furthermore, MP Rakan Al-Nisf emphasized that the government’s evaluation will be based on its performance, not the names of its members. “If the ministers prove they are serious in implementing reforms, we will extend the hand of cooperation to them. However, if they fail, there is no other action but accountability.”
MP Saadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi warned that the reappointment of Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh means there will be crisis in the next few days. In case Al-Sabeeh is subjected to grilling, she will be the first minister in the current government to face a no-confidence motion, he asserted. He disclosed a number of MPs decided to submit a request to hold Al- Sabeeh politically accountable.
MP Safaa Al-Hashim unveiled her plan to forward questions about the ministry’s sponsorship of the treatment of an expatriate to Al-Sabeeh. She claimed the minister is taking care of the expatriate and the judiciary has yet to decide on the case. She wonders where the minister will get the funds to cover the treatment expenses as she promised and if the Egyptian government shouldered the treatment expenditures of any Kuwaiti. She voiced objection to what she considers discrimination against Kuwaitis in their own country. On the new government formation, Al-Hashim said the government must be held politically liable if the approach in the employment of Kuwaitis does not change. If that happens, the government should blame no one but itself, she concluded.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies