Outgoing defence minister to be Kuwait PM – reports


Kuwait’s emir will name outgoing Defence Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah as new prime minister and ask him to form a government, Al Jazeera television and Kuwaiti newspapers reported today, two days after the government resigned.

The Qatar-based news station did not cite a source, and there was no immediate comment on the report by Kuwaiti officials.

At least two Kuwaiti newspapers carried a similar report on their websites, citing unnamed sources as saying that the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, would also dissolve parliament.

Kuwait’s government resigned on Monday, bowing to escalating demands by protesters and opposition deputies that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah step down over corruption allegations.
“Political sources expect the nomination at anytime of … Sheikh Jaber … as prime minister,” the daily al-Watan said.
“The sources said an expected scenario is a dissolution of parliament, and the announcement of a government headed by Sheikh Jaber … to oversee the election and resign after the …election,” it said.

Kuwait, an OPEC oil-producer, has tolerated criticism of its government to a degree rare among its Gulf neighbours, helping to insulate it from the protest-driven political tumult that has helped topple four Arab leaders this year.

But tensions rose sharply this month when opposition lawmakers and protesters stormed parliament to demand the resignation of the prime minister.

Kuwait has been locked in a long-running political battle between the government dominated by the ruling Al Sabah family and the 50-member elected parliament.

The standoff between parliament and the government has pushed Kuwait from one political crisis to the next and delayed key economic reforms and projects.

Since Sheikh Nasser became prime minister in 2006, seven cabinets have been re-jigged and the emir has been pushed to dissolve parliament and call early elections three times.

The previous cabinet resigned in March to avoid parliamentary questioning of three ministers, the main weapon the elected body has against the government.

Changes of the oil minister usually do not have an impact on the energy policy of the OPEC producer, which is usually among the top six world crude exporters.