Kuwait Post-Election Cabinet Has New Finance, Oil Ministers

Kuwait’s prime minister appointed a cabinet including new faces at the oil and finance ministries, days after voters eager for change in the energy-rich nation tossed out half of parliament.

Khalifa Hamada was appointed minister of finance, state-run KUNA news agency reported Monday. Hamada, who served as finance ministry undersecretary for more than a decade, is the fifth person to hold the post in just under seven years.

Mohammed Alfares, a board member of Kuwait Petroleum Corp., was named minister of oil, electricity and water, becoming the country’s eighth energy minister in as many years. Faisal Al-Medlej, who headed the body for developing the northern Silk City and Boubyan Island project, was named minister of commerce and industry.

The election was held at a critical moment for an economy reeling from lower oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic and stalled reform. Lawmakers have thwarted plans to reallocate state handouts and blocked proposals to issue debt.

The Gulf nation, home to about 6% of the world’s oil reserves and the fourth-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is facing a record budget deficit. The International Monetary Fund expects gross domestic product to contract more than 8% this year.

It’s Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah’s second cabinet in less than a year, and 10 of its 16 members are new, many of them technocrats. In accordance with the country’s constitution, the government must resign after parliamentary elections and a new cabinet formed within two weeks.

Kuwait elected a new National Assembly on Dec. 5, replacing dozens of incumbent legislators in a blow to pro-government forces, women and liberals. Tumultuous relations between the elected parliament and the government appointed by the country’s ruler have in the past led to policy gridlock.

Kuwait has had 17 governments and eight elections since 2006. The new parliament convenes on Tuesday amid what could be a battle for the post of speaker.

Other appointments include:

  • Foreign Minister: Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah
  • Defense Minister: Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah
  • Interior Minister: Sheikh Thamer Al-Ali Al-Sabah
  • Public Works Minister: Rana Al-Fares, the only female cabinet minister, who retained the portfolio
  • Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs: Anas Al-Saleh, formerly interior minister

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