Bloomberg News

Kuwait Appoints Hani Hussein as Oil Minister in New Cabinet

February 15, 2012

(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph.)

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Hani Hussein, a former chief executive officer of Kuwait Petroleum Corp., was named as Kuwaiti oil minister in a 16-member Cabinet sworn in today.

Mustafa al-Shimali was reappointed finance minister and Anas Al-Saleh was named minister of commerce and industry, state media reported. The administration is headed by Sheikh Jaber Al- Mubarak Al-Sabah, nominated by the emir last week to stay on as prime minister, and includes five members of the ruling al-Sabah family at ministries including defense, the interior and foreign affairs.

The government’s formation follows Kuwait’s fourth election in six years earlier this month, in the wake of an unprecedented campaign of protests against the previous administration over corruption allegations. Opposition candidates won more than 30 of parliament’s 50 seats and vowed to push for the transfer of more powers to the legislature.

The Cabinet named today is “an old wine in a new bottle,” said Ayed al-Manna, a political analyst at Kuwait’s Public Authority for Applied Education. “It’s not a government to satisfy a very strong, young opposition, I think it won’t survive for very long.”

The Cabinet includes just one lawmaker, Shuaib Al-Moayzeri, who was named housing minister and state minister for national assembly affairs. “We expected more than five elected MPs to join, and the opposition demanded nine,” al-Manna said.

Cabinet Resignations

Repeated clashes between lawmakers and the government over how to share power have led to a series of parliament dissolutions and Cabinet resignations in Kuwait, the fourth- biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, slowing economic growth and delaying key investment projects.

Last year’s demonstrations mostly targeted Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, a nephew of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah, whose resignation as premier in November prompted the dissolution of the previous parliament.

The opposition movement includes Islamists, liberals and independents, as well as youth groups who cite inspiration from last year’s Arab uprisings. Some groups demand a constitutional monarchy and elected government. Others say their focus is fighting corruption.

Opposition lawmakers also accuse the government of delays in implementation of Kuwait’s $111 billion investment plan, which includes expanding oil and gas production and infrastructure.

--Editors: Ben Holland, Eddie Buckle.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait at dkholaif@bloomberg.net Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net


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