Updated: October 7, 2020 5:24:01 pm
Kuwait’s deputy chief of the National Guard, who spent years in the oil-rich country’s security services, was nominated as crown prince on Wednesday, the Kuwaiti state news agency reported.
The nomination makes Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah the possible heir apparent to the new emir, 83-year-old Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who was propelled to power a week ago, following the death of his half-brother.
Before Sheikh Meshal can be officially named crown prince, lawmakers must approve the choice during their final session on Thursday, ahead of the formation of a new government, a rare vote for the region’s Arab monarchies in which the question of succession is typically decided behind palace doors.
Following the session, Kuwait’s parliament will dissolve itself ahead of elections tentatively set for late November.
At age 80, Sheikh Meshal, half-brother of the late Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and the fourth sibling to ascend from the same branch of the royal family, is widely seen as a conventional and safe choice.
Given his career in the interior ministry, very little is known about his policy preferences. Unlike other top contenders for the post, he has steered clear of the country’s tumultuous politics and the royal family’s public feuds over corruption allegations.
His selection delays any generational change in Kuwait, reinforcing the contrast with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, now in effect led by powerful young princes.
Under the late Sheikh Sabah, who commanded great respect as a seasoned diplomat in a region divided along political and sectarian lines, Kuwait managed to pursue independent foreign policies despite the pressures of more belligerent regional heavyweights.
A worsening coronavirus outbreak and plunging oil prices have sharpened attention on Kuwait’s domestic grievances. Gridlock in parliament has blocked the passage of a public debt law needed to raise $65 billion and mitigate the country’s looming liquidity crisis, and calls are growing for political reform.
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