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Kuwait's emir reappoints PM to form new cabinet after parliament standoff

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (front) participates in the Arab League’s fourth Economic and Social Development Summit on 20 January 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon. [Jihad Muhammad Behlok - Anadolu Agency]
Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (front) participates in the Arab League’s fourth Economic and Social Development Summit on 20 January 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon. [Jihad Muhammad Behlok - Anadolu Agency]

Kuwait's emir reappointed Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as prime minister on Sunday after the cabinet resigned last week in a standoff with parliament over its vote to question the premier on issues including his choice of ministers, Reuters reports.

Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, facing his first big political challenge since taking power in September, tasked Sheikh Sabah with nominating a new cabinet for approval, state news agency KUNA said.

The barely one month-old government had been acting in a caretaker role since it resigned over the confrontation with parliament. The situation has complicated efforts to tackle a severe liquidity crunch in the wealthy OPEC member state caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Frequent rows and deadlocks between cabinet and the elected assembly have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament over decades, hampering investment and economic and fiscal reform.

The motion earlier this month to question Sheikh Sabah, premier since late 2019, was supported by more than 30 MPs in the 50-seat assembly in which the opposition made gains.

The motion, seen by Reuters, referred to a cabinet that did not reflect last year's legislative elections and to government "interference" in electing the speaker and members of parliamentary committees.

Kuwait has the most vibrant political system among Gulf Arab states, with a parliament able to pass, and block, legislation and question ministers. However, senior government posts are occupied by members of Kuwait's ruling family, and the emir has final say in state matters.

READ: Will the reconciliation of the Gulf governments lead to better relations with their own citizens?

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