By B Izzak and Agencies
KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah stressed on Wednesday keenness to adhere to the constitution and the law and meet the needs of the Kuwaiti people. This came during HH the Amir’s reception of HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who briefed him on the consultations to form the new government.
HH the Amir was briefed on the talks HH the Crown Prince had with former National Assembly speakers Marzouq Al-Ghanem and Ahmad Al-Saadoun, and former prime ministers HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and HH Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah; and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
HH the Amir praised the efforts of HH the Crown Prince, providing him with sagacious instructions and expressing good wishes to all officials involved in serving the dear homeland’s higher interests. Earlier Wednesday, the Amiri Diwan announced HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was renamed as the head of the Cabinet. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal later received HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad, who presented to him the list of ministers in the new Cabinet.
An Amiri decree was issued late Wednesday announcing the formation of the new Cabinet with nine new faces including new oil and commerce ministers, and two women, while retaining six old ministers. But the new Cabinet began with a dilemma when one minister quit immediately over objections to some ministers.
Ammar Al-Ajmi, the only elected MP in the Cabinet, was named as Minister of Electricity and Water and Public Works, but he immediately said he was leaving the Cabinet because “some of the ministers do not respect the constitution”. His shocking announcement came minutes after the names of the ministers were announced.
Ajmi said on Twitter the new government team “includes some members who have lost public trust and I am sure they do not respect the constitution”. As a result, “I apologize for not being able to work with them,” he said adding that he had asked for the names of the full Cabinet but was not given them.
The exit of Ajmi means the prime minister must find another lawmaker to replace him, because under Kuwaiti law, the Cabinet must include at least one elected MP. Contrary to expectations of many MPs, the premier retained some ministers from the old Cabinet who were grilled by the opposition.
Former MP Mohammad Al-Dallal said it was an unsuccessful start to the new government as it came well below the ambitions of the people and failed to reflect the message of the election’s outcome. He added that the new Cabinet does not have enough political experience.
The new Cabinet retained Interior Minister Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah and Finance Minister Abdulwahab Al-Rushaid. Rana Al-Fares kept her post as Minister of State for Municipal Affairs and Minister of State for Communications, while Mohammed Al-Fares, the former oil minister, was kept as Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs.
Information Minister Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi also retained his post. New faces include Defense Minister Sheikh Abdullah Ali Al-Sabah and Oil Minister Hussein Ismail, a top oil executive. Mazen Al-Nahedh, a businessman, was appointed as Minister of Commerce and Industry, while Dr Ahmad Al-Awadhi was named Health Minister. Khalifa Al-Humaidha was appointed Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs and Minister of State for Housing. Huda Al-Shayji, the second woman in the Cabinet along with Rana Al-Fares, was named Minister of Social Affairs and Development and Minister of State for Women and Childhood Affairs, while Muthanna Al-Refai was appointed Minister of Education. Mohammad Buzabar was appointed Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
Earlier, Sheikh Ahmad’s appointment was welcomed by opposition MPs, who have a clear majority in the house. MP Abdulwahab Al-Essa called on the premier to form a national salvation government to take Kuwait out of its troubles, insisting that ministers should be selected on the basis of competence and not due to political reasons.
MP Thamer Al-Suwait welcomed the premier’s appointment and called on him to select a strong team for the Cabinet and submit a reform-oriented program of action for the new Cabinet. MP Saifi Al-Saifi called on the prime minister to submit a program of action that responds to the needs of the people. He added that not much time is left because the country has been exhausted by previous Cabinets.
Meanwhile, two former MPs who lost the elections on Sept 29 have challenged the results of the elections before the constitutional court, claiming there were calculation errors in the counting of votes. Candidate Ahmad Al-Otaibi from the fifth constituency also submitted a similar challenge. Several losing candidates have alleged there were major errors in counting the votes, which made them lose. They are demanding a recount of votes to rectify the alleged mistakes.