Kuwait awaits new PM amid high expectations

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Kuwait is awaiting the appointment of a new prime minister, the fifth in less than two decades, amid high popular expectations to put the rich country back on track. Local media reported that Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family who is close to the opposition, has been picked up by the Crown Prince to form the new cabinet.

The announcement was highly expected to be made earlier this week but got delayed amid unconfirmed reports that Sheikh Mohammed has turned down the offer to become the next prime minister over policy issues. The Harvard-educated Sheikh Mohammed is the son of Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who ruled the country between 1965 and 1976. He served as Kuwait’s envoy to Washington for several years before being appointed in the Cabinet for the first time in 2001 as minister of state for foreign affairs. He was promoted to a full foreign minister two years later.

Social media rejoiced over the reports on Sheikh Mohammed’s appointment and some senior politicians welcomed the appointment. But it appears that the appointment has not gone as smooth as it was expected with local media reporting that Sheikh Mohammed has declined the offer over some policy issues, including the freedom to appoint his Cabinet members.

Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah

Former MP Mubarak Al-Duwailah wrote on his Twitter: “Back to Square One” in reference to Sheikh Mohammed’s refusal. Interior Minister in the resigned Cabinet Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was also nominated to form the new Cabinet if Sheikh Mohammed insisted on his rejection. Sheikh Ahmad is the son of the Amir and has gained huge popularity after his inclusion in the Cabinet just a few months ago.

MP Ahmad Al-Azemi yesterday described the current period as “a decisive phase in the history of Kuwait”, adding that achieving stability in Kuwait requires a new government that avoids the mistakes of the past. MP Khaled Al-Otaibi said the next prime minister will inherit major challenges to reform what the previous government has damaged.

MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji described the political events in Kuwait as “unprecedented”, saying they will impact the form of the next cabinet. Former liberal MP Saleh Al-Mulla warmly welcomed earlier news about the appointment of Sheikh Mohammed, but he warned that the main thing for the new cabinet is to abandon the old-style of appointing ministers.

It’s worth mentioning that Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, in power for less than three years, submitted his government’s resignation in early April after 26 opposition MPs, two more than the required quorum, said they will back a non-cooperation motion filed by opposition MPs following a grilling over alleged mismanagement.

The resignation had been accepted by the Amir who asked Sheikh Sabah to continue as a care-taker premier to run urgent matters until a new premier is named. Last month, HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, in a speech read by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, said he has decided to dissolve the national assembly, a key demand by the opposition, and call for fresh polls “within months”. The opposition welcomed the speech and called for appointing a new prime minister to introduce fundamental changes and reforms to the way the government has been operating.

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