DUBAI (Reuters) – Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah reappointed Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as prime minister on Tuesday following parliamentary polls in the Gulf Arab state, which faces its worst economic crisis in decades.
Sheikh Nawaf has asked Sheikh Sabah to nominate members of a new cabinet for approval, state media said.
While the emir has the final say in state matters, the prime minister traditionally helps navigate the often tense relationship between government and parliament, where opposition candidates made gains in Saturday’s legislative vote.
Analysts said the makeup of the new assembly could hamper government reform efforts to address a severe liquidity crunch in the OPEC member state caused by low oil prices and the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Sheikh Sabah, who had been foreign minister since 2011 before being elevated to the post of premier in late 2019, faces the urgent task of overcoming legislative gridlock on a debt law that would allow Kuwait to tap international debt markets in order to plug a growing budget deficit.
Frequent rows and deadlocks between cabinet and the assembly, the Gulf region’s oldest and most outspoken, have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament, hampering investment and economic and fiscal reform in the cradle-to-grave welfare state.
The oil policy of the OPEC producer, which is set by a supreme petroleum council, and foreign policy, which is steered by the emir, are unlikely to change under the new government.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Catherine Evans and Philippa Fletcher)