Kuwaiti Emir appoints Prime Minister as deputy ruler during his absence

The role is usually filled by the country's crown prince, but one has yet to be appointed

Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah chairs a weekly cabinet session in Kuwait City. Kuna
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Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal has appointed Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah to take on the role of Deputy Emir when he is not in the country.

He also directed Sheikh Fahad Yusuf Al Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and acting Interior Minister, to take up the role of prime minister during these periods.

“The Emiri order appointing … Sheikh Dr Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, Prime Minister, as Deputy Emir stipulates that this procedure will continue until the crown prince is appointed,” the Kuwait News Agency reported, citing the royal decree.

The role of deputy ruler is taken by the crown prince, who has yet to be appointed.

Sheikh Mohammed was appointed as Prime Minister earlier this month and is in the process of drafting his government plan, which his cabinet is expected to present to parliament at its next session on February 6.

Sheikh Meshal, previously the Crown Prince, officially became Ruler upon the death of his predecessor Sheikh Nawaf in December.

Constitutionally, Sheikh Meshal has up to a year upon to nominate a crown prince.

Article 4 of Kuwait’s constitution stipulates that a crown prince’s nomination becomes official only if the parliament “swears fealty to him by a consenting majority of the members composing the National Assembly sitting in special session”.

Should a nominated crown prince not secure the consent of the majority in the National Assembly, the constitution then requires Sheikh Meshal to nominate at least three descendants of Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah, one of whom must be approved as the next heir apparent by a majority vote in parliament.

Observers believe Sheikh Meshal might take his time in appointing a crown prince, given the ageing line of succession in recent years.

Sheikh Meshal was 80 years old when he was appointed as Crown Prince in 2020.

“Whether Kuwait witnesses its first generational shift in decades or not in terms of the choice of crown prince, the country will need to deliver on various fronts,” Bader Alsaif, an assistant professor of history at Kuwait University, told The National.

“The political calm of the past few months is the necessary platform for implementing urgently needed reforms.”

Updated: January 24, 2024, 11:28 AM