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Middle East

Kuwait forms cabinet with new oil, finance ministers

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    Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah attend the 19th Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) summit in Kuwait City, on April 9, 2013. Kuwait's appeals court has overturned a three-year jail term on three former opposition MPs and acquitted them from the charge of insulting the emir, a rights activist said. (AFP/File)

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    In this file picture dated February 8, 2009, Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah addresses a press conference in Kuwait City. The former central bank governor has been appointed finance minister in a new cabinet line-up that was announced on August 4, 2013. (AFP/File)

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    A file photo taken on May 24, 2012, shows Mustafa al-Shamali attending a parliament session in Kuwait City. Shamali has been appointed oil minister in a new Kuwaiti cabinet line-up that was announced on August 4, 2013. (AFP/File)

Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, named a cabinet on Sunday that, includes new oil, finance and defence ministers and seven members of the ruling Al-Sabah family.

The appointment of the new 16-member line-up came after the Gulf state's second parliamentary polls in eight months were again boycotted by the opposition.

Former central bank governor, Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah, who resigned last year in protest over a huge expansion in public spending, was appointed finance minister.

In his resignation letter in February last year, Sheikh Salem complained that public spending had increased to unprecedented and unsustainable high levels, risking fiscal and monetary stability.

Between 2006 and 2012, Kuwait spending has tripled to over $70 billion with the overwhelming majority going to support salary increases and public subsidies.

The outgoing finance minister Mustafa al-Shamali was named oil minister, a post he had held on a caretaker basis since May following the resignation of Hani Hussein.

As well as Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, six other members of the Al-Sabah family were appointed to the cabinet, one more than in the previous government.

They control the key ministries of defence, interior and foreign affairs, as well as finance, information and health.

New interior and defence ministers were appointed from within the ruling family.

Sheikh Ahmad Humoud Al-Sabah was replaced at interior by Sheikh Mohammad Khaled Al-Sabah, who had previously held the post.

Army chief of staff Sheikh Khaled al-Jarrah Al-Sabah replaces Sheikh Ahmad Khaled Al-Sabah at defence.

"The government has seven members from the ruling family and the rest are former ministers ... This confirms that there is no intention to inject young blood," independent MP Riyadh al-Adasani said.

"Article 6 of the constitution states that the people are the source of all powers but in reality the ruling family is the source of all powers," former opposition MP Abdulrahman al-Anjari wrote on his Twitter account.

The ministers of commerce, development, social affairs and labour, education and Islamic affairs were retained. Newly-elected MP Issa al-Kundari was appointed communications minister.

The cabinet retains the two female ministers in the same posts and has two members from the Shiite minority.

"It appears we are before a policy that will never change and a mentality that has not understood the message of the election," independent Shiite MP Faisal al-Duwaisan said in a statement.

He threatened that if the government does not tackle a number of key issues quickly, he will question the prime minister and other ministers in parliament.

MP Maasouma al-Mubarak, normally close to the government, said she was shocked by the new cabinet line-up which indicates to new crises in the country after retaining ministers who could not perform. She did not name those ministers.

The previous cabinet, also headed by Sheikh Jaber, resigned last week in a routine process following a general election.

The July 27 vote was boycotted by the Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition but saw turnout of 52.5 percent, sharply up on the record low of 40 percent in the previous election in December.

The new cabinet is Kuwait's 12th since 2006. The emirate has been hit by a series of political crises that have forced 11 cabinets to resign and parliament to be dissolved on six occasions.

Disputes between successive governments and parliament have stalled development in the wealthy Gulf state which has surpluses of around $400 billion thanks to high oil prices over the past 12 years.

Kuwait, which says it sits on 10 percent of global oil reserves, pumps around three million barrels of crude per day. It has a citizen population of 1.23 million and 2.67 million expatriate residents.