Kuwait's Emir Nawaf Al Sabah takes oath in Parliament

Kuwait's late Emir, Sheikh Sabah, died on Tuesday at the age of 91

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Kuwait's new Emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Sabah, took the oath of office in Parliament at noon on Wednesday, completing the process to become the country's new ruler.

Sheikh Nawaf, crown prince to Sheikh Sabah who died at 91 on Tuesday, was named as the new leader by Cabinet on Tuesday evening. The Parliament oath completes the 83-year-old's ascension to the throne.

He pledged to work for the prosperity of Gulf Arab states as well as stability as he called for uniting ranks in the face of challenges.

Sheikh Nawaf, speaking with a broken voice, paid tribute to the late Emir Sheikh Sabah, remembering his achievements and advice. "Kuwait has overcome many crises in its history and we face critical challenges today that requires unity and serious work," he said.

Sheikh Nawaf pledged to advance and protect the country and its people, affirmed his belief in Kuwait’s political system, its institutions and its constitution.

"The country has succeeded in overcoming difficulties by joining forces and uniting with the world and I will do my best to preserve the country's dignity and protect its security," he said.

Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al Ghanim said the new Emir is "a mix between modesty and firmness," following inaugural address. He highlighted the new leader’s long career and experience and said the "start of his new era will entail fighting against corruption, respecting the law and ensuring good reaches the public."

"Sheikh Sabah led the country to safety at times of crises that were flaring up around us, but we are confident that Sheikh Nawaf can guide and lead Kuwait to prosperity," he added.

State television carried an address by Anas Khalid Al Saleh, Kuwait’s interior minister and deputy prime minister, announcing Sheikh Nawaf had taken the position only hours after Sheikh Sabah’s death on Tuesday evening.

Minister of Royal Court Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah on Wednesday said that the funeral for Sheikh Sabah will only be open to family.

He thanked the people of Kuwait for their heartfelt condolences but said that due to the coronavirus pandemic control measures, the funeral would be closed to the public.

The body of Sheikh Sabah arrived back in the country on Wednesday, a day after he died in the United States where he had been receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic hospital in Minnesota since July following surgery in Kuwait earlier in the month.

A Kuwait government Airbus A340 jet left the Rochester International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

An Airbus A340-500 jet prepares to leave the Rochester International Airport  after Kuwait announced that ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah had died after treatment, in Rochester, Minnesota, U.S. September 29, 2020.  REUTERS/Eric Miller

Sheikh Nawaf has served as the crown prince since 2006, jumping a traditional order of alternating rule between the Al Jaber and the Al Salim branches of the country’s ruling family.

While the line of succession was clear, the conversation in the royal palaces will now turn to who will become Sheikh Nawaf’s crown prince. The discussion over succession can take time, especially with the mourning period in the country, as branches of the family will make their case for the best candidate.

On September 18, US President Donald Trump awarded Sheikh Sabah the prestigious Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander. It was the first time the honour has been given since 1991 and was presented to the Emir’s eldest son, Sheikh Nasser Al Sabah, at a private ceremony with Mr Trump.

The White House praised the emir as an “unwavering friend and partner to the United States” who gave “indispensable support to the United States throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the Defeat-ISIS campaign”.

Mr Trump on Tuesday joined world leaders expressing their sadness at the Emir’s passing. He described Sheikh Sabah as “a dear friend” and described him as an “unparalleled diplomat” who “tirelessly mediated to end conflicts in the Middle East”.

Sheikh Sabah “was an extraordinary symbol of wisdom and generosity, a messenger of peace, a bridge-builder”, said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.