Shaikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al Sabah, the new prime minister, told the parliament on Monday: "The government ... adopts the programme of action of the previous cabinet."

The previous cabinet had introduced an economic-political reform plan.

Shaikh Nasser told members of parliament time was short and that the "march of reform, modernisation and development ... does not go without difficulties and obstacles".

"We are racing with time to materialise aspirations and achievements in line with the requirements of the 21st century," he said.

Addressing the political opposition, Shaikh Nasser, whose cabinet was announced on 9 February, pledged to shrink the number of Kuwaiti electoral districts and to push for a new liberal press law.

Kuwaiti opposition groups blasted the emirate's new cabinet last week, accusing it of containing corrupt elements and predicting it would fail to implement reforms.

Shaikh Nasser, 65, replaced 76-year-old Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah as prime minister after Shaikh Sabah was tapped as amir in January following a succession crisis after the death of Amir Shaikh Jaber al-Ahmad Al Sabah.

Key step

Shaikh Sabah's accession to the throne was a key step to ending a leadership struggle that broke out within the ruling family after Shaikh Jaber al-Ahmed Al Sabah died on 15 January, leaving an ailing crown prince as heir apparent.
 
That prompted the legislature for the first time in the history of the emirate to invoke a 1964 succession law and remove Shaikh Saad al-Abdullah Al Sabah from power after hearing medical testimony that he was unable to carry out his duties.

In a related development, Kuwait's legislators have confirmed Shaikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al Sabah - the amir's half-brother - as the new crown prince.

Shaikh Sabah became Kuwait's
amir in January

The 64 members of the parliament voted unanimously in favour of Shaikh Nawaf's nomination, which was decided by the amir on 7 February.

Before the vote, lawmakers praised Shaikh Nawaf, 68, as a man who is respected by all Kuwaitis.

"He is the shaikh of morality, the shaikh of humility, the shaikh of cooperation with parliament," lawmaker Abd al-Wahab al-Haroun said.
 
Shaikh Nawaf had been interior minister and deputy prime minister in the cabinet that resigned after Shaikh Sabah took power.

He had also served as a governor, defence minister, minister of social affairs and labour and deputy head of the national guards.
 
Kuwait sits on 10% of the world's proven oil reserves and has a native population of just under one million, in addition to 1.9 million foreigners.