Kuwait’s ruling family asks prime minister to lead country in light of emir’s poor health | VailDaily.com

Kuwait’s ruling family asks prime minister to lead country in light of emir’s poor health

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait’s prime minister on Friday agreed to take charge of the country due to the poor health of the newly named emir, state television reported, a move seen as a first step to his taking over the top office.In an unprecedented move, a newspaper called Friday for the new emir, Sheik Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, to abdicate and assign his responsibilities to a member of the ruling family who “is able to carry them out.”The editorial in the independent Al-Qabas reflected the extent of the crisis that has confronted the country since Sunday when the emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, died and was promptly succeeded by one who is extremely frail.Since taking over, Sheik Saad, who is in his mid-70s, has appeared in public in a wheelchair but he has not spoken, causing concern that he is unable to take the oath of office.The newspaper did not say who the next emir should be, but it said the love that Kuwaitis have for Sheik Saad would only grow if he were to step down.Television reported that ruling family members visited the prime minister, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, at his residence on Friday and asked him to accept the responsibility of leading the country until it reaches the “shore of safety.”Sheik Sabah – who has a pacemaker but otherwise seems to be in good health – accepted the responsibility and asked God to help him shoulder it “under the circumstances that need … unity,” the television reported.The announcement means that Sheik Sabah, who has run the day-to-day affairs of government for years, becomes de facto ruler until Sheik Saad abdicates or another constitutional way out of the crisis is found.In an indication that he is likely to be the next emir, Sheik Sabah was quoted as saying he will “walk in the footsteps” of the late emir.The television showed family members kissing Sheik Sabah in congratulation. Sheik Saad did not appear.The TV quoted the prime minister as saying Sheik Saad’s “heroic and historic” role during the seven-month Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990-91 will “live forever.” Significantly, he did not refer to Sheik Saad as emir.Succession is a sensitive issue in the oil-rich emirate, which is accustomed to untroubled handover of power. However, it became a public issue with the ill health of the late emir, and the former crown prince who became ruler Sunday.The carefully worded statement on television said members of the ruling family “renewed” the confidence shown by the late emir to Sheik Sabah late last year. Last October, the emir had responded to apparent criticism of Sheik Sabah by saying he “fully trusted” and “appreciated” the efforts of Sheik Sabah, his half brother.Members of the ruling family and parliament have held numerous meetings since Sheik Jaber’s death to discuss leadership of the country.Sheik Saad is the eldest son of Kuwait’s most popular emir, Sheik Abdullah Al Salem Al Sabah, dubbed the “father of democracy” and founder of modern Kuwait.Vail, Colorado

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