Middle East
Kuwait MPs in walkout over cabinet
Protests mark parliament's first session amid appeals by emir for co-operation with cabinet.
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2009 12:35 GMT
Sunday's session featured women MPs whose refusal to cover their hair prompted a walkout [AFP]

Kuwait's newly elected members of parliament have walked out of the first session to protest against the new cabinet line-up.
Nine members - almost a fifth of parliament - staged a walkout on Sunday after Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the emir, urged parliament to co-operate with the cabinet.

Five others boycotted the session.
Some of the MPs who walked out also protested against the failure by two of their four female colleagues to cover their heads as required by Islamic rules.

The four women made history as Kuwait's first female parliamentarians in last month's elections.

In the cabinet announced on Friday, six new ministers were named.

Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a nephew of Sheikh Sabah, was appointed prime minister. This is the sixth cabinet he has headed since 2006.
Another nephew of the emir, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad Al-Sabah, was reappointed oil minister and got three more portfolios - deputy prime minister for economic affairs, minister of state for development affairs and minister of state for housing affairs.

Running standoff
Although Sunni Islamists, who had long dominated the assembly, lost about half their seats to Shias and liberals, analysts say the changes are not enough to end a long-running standoff with the government.
Continuing tensions could hamper vital legislation, including a $5bn economic stimulus package.

It had faced resistance in the old parliament and was adopted by the government after the legislature was dissolved.
The tensions also threaten plans to diversify Kuwait's economy which relies heavily on oil, and could leave the world's fourth-largest oil exporter exposed to price fluctuations.

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