Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

KUWAIT - Kuwait formed a new cabinet on Tuesday that did not expand the number of lawmakers in the government, despite gains by an emboldened opposition in this month's snap parliamentary poll.

Newly elected members of parliament failed to reach an agreement with Kuwait's rulers over appointing more MPs to the cabinet in a deal that could have eased chronic friction whose main victims have been reform and development.

Hani Hussein, former head of Kuwait's state petroleum corporation, became oil minister, while former chief of staff Sheikh Ahmed al-Khaled al-Sabah took the defence portfolio.

Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmed al-Hamoud al-Sabah stayed in his post, as did Finance Minister Mustapha al-Shamali.

The outgoing cabinet was appointed late last year after its predecessor quit amid a political crisis that has stymied reform and held up development projects in the major oil exporter.

Under the constitution, a new cabinet must be formed within two weeks of elections, in time for the assembly's first session, which is due on Wednesday.

One minister in the new cabinet was drawn from the elected assembly, the minimum number under the constitution.

Kuwait's rulers had been expected to include more MPs in the cabinet to try to defuse an acrimonious, long-running standoff between parliament and the cabinet, but could not agree terms with the newly elected opposition MPs.

Opposition lawmakers had been offered four cabinet posts out of a possible 16, but held out for nine, local daily al-Qabas reported on Tuesday.

The lack of agreement sets the stage for more discord between parliament and government. During the former prime minister's five years in office, the cabinet was reshuffled seven times. – Reuters