Kuwaiti deputies protest cabinet line-up

 

A fifth of Kuwait's deputies walked out of parliament today to protest against the composition of a new cabinet.

In a sign tensions that led to the dissolution of the previous house remain, the protest came just after a call by the Gulf state's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah at the inaugural session of parliament for co-operation with the cabinet and an end to the wrangling that had delayed key economic reforms.

Despite the plea, nine of the 50 elected deputies walked out when the new cabinet members took their oath, protesting against the lineup of the appointed government whose members are mostly not elected deputies.

Sheikh Sabah dissolved the previous parliament in March after a standoff with the government paralysed law-making and led to the resignation of the cabinet.

But Islamists and tribal politicians managed to maintain their grip on the house in the polls last month.

Several deputies have complained that the new 15-member cabinet include too many old faces. "Some deputies had reservations . . . and wanted to express this by walking out. This is a message that the government must accept," one parliamentarian said.

Opec member Kuwait wants to end its heavy reliance on oil income and diversify its economy to emulate the success of Gulf neighbours Dubai and Bahrain which have become regional financial centres and popular tourist destinations.

Key plans such as a law to allow foreign firms to help develop oilfields and another to set up a financial regulator have been stuck in parliament.