Kuwait’s new cabinet has been sworn in, weeks after the government quit amid a deepening deadlock with Parliament that has blocked badly needed reforms in the oil-rich Gulf Arab state.
Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah on Wednesday swapped out four ministers whose selections had angered various lawmakers for less contentious, veteran politicians, an apparent gesture to appease Parliament.
The worsening rift between Kuwait’s emir-appointed government and elected parliament presents the first significant challenge to Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who ascended the throne late last year.
The infighting diminished public confidence, caused instability and hastened the country’s worst debt crisis since the 1990 Iraqi invasion.
As Kuwait’s general reserve fund runs out of cash, lawmakers, sceptical of deep-rooted corruption, have prevented the government from borrowing like other Gulf states in response to the coronavirus pandemic and low crude prices.
Sheikh Nawaf suspended Parliament last month until mid-March as tensions escalated over the cabinet appointments.
In his speech at the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, Sheikh Nawaf urged unity to confront mounting crises.
“You have tremendous responsibilities, especially at this important stage, and I’m sure that you … can to work collectively in the spirit of a single team,” he told ministers.
It remains to be seen how lawmakers view the dozen holdovers in the new cabinet, but there were no immediate rebukes from parliamentary blocs.