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Kuwait picks outgoing PM to form new Cabinet

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 05, 2012 4:14 AM
Kuwait picks outgoing PM to form new Cabinet

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's emir on Thursday asked outgoing Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah to form a new government, state news agency KUNA said, in a move that may help ease a political crisis in the Western-allied OPEC oil producer.

Sheikh Jaber must now select a 15-member cabinet, after which analysts expect Kuwait's ruler to dissolve parliament in order to allow fresh elections, widely expected to be held after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which starts around July 19.

The previous government, also headed by Sheikh Jaber, resigned last month after Kuwait's constitutional court effectively dissolved a parliament dominated by Islamist-led opposition MPs, reinstating its more government-friendly predecessor instead.

The newly formed cabinet may take an oath of office at the reinstated parliament and then resign, paving the way for new parliamentary elections, analysts said. The last such elections in the U.S. ally were in February.

Kuwait, a major oil producer, has seen eight governments come and go in just six years due to political bickering between the parliament and Cabinet, which has hindered economic reforms.

Kuwait is home to one of the region's most outspoken parliaments with legislative powers and a tradition of lively debate - unique in a region ruled by autocrats who tolerate little dissent - but the ruling al-Sabah family still maintains a firm grip on state affairs.

Key Cabinet posts are held by ruling family members and the 83-year-old emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who has the last say in politics, reserves the right to dissolve parliament at will.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Harby; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Osborn)