Kuwait’s ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah dies

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah died on Tuesday (Sep 29) aged 91, plunging his country into mourning for a leader regarded by many Gulf Arabs as a savvy diplomatic operator and a humanitarian champion.

The cabinet announced his brother and designated successor Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah as the new ruler, in a statement read on state television. The parliamentary speaker tweeted that Sheikh Nawaf, 83, would be sworn in on Wednesday.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah arrives at Heathrow Airport in London Nov 26, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth)

Sheikh Sabah had ruled the wealthy oil producer and US ally since 2006, and steered its foreign policy for more than 50 years.

The succession is not expected to affect oil policy or foreign investment strategy through the Kuwait Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds. Oil policy is set by the Supreme Petroleum Council, appointed by the emir.

The new emir’s choice of crown prince and prime minister – who would be tasked with managing the government’s often difficult relationship with parliament – will be watched closely, at a time when Kuwait’s finances have been strained by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Although most political power in Kuwait is in the hands of the emir, its parliament is one of the most influential elected bodies among Gulf monarchies.

Source: Reuters/kv/ec

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