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Kuwait parliament endorses former intelligence chief Sheikh Meshal as crown prince

Sheikh Meshal has been deputy chief of the Kuwait National Guard since 2004 [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 8 October, 2020

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Kuwait's parliament has unanimously voted to endorse Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad as the country's new crown prince.

Kuwait's parliament has unanimously endorsed Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad as the country's crown prince on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Sheikh Meshal, 80, has been deputy chief of the Kuwait National Guard since 2004, largely staying out of the political scene and away from disputes within the royal family. 

The ratification by Kuwait's parliament comes a day after Sheikh Meshal's half-brother - Kuwait's new emir - selected him for the role of crown prince.

Kuwait's new emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, was sworn in on September 30 after the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who died at the age of 91 after two months in hospital in the US.

The succession comes at a time when the oil-rich country is grappling with the hot topics of whether to establish ties with Israel and how to respond to a slump in oil prices amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Sheikh Nawaf selected his younger brother, Sheikh Meshal, who is considered a man with long government, military and intelligence experience, as crown prince on Wednesday

Kuwait state media reported Sheikh Meshal was named on Wednesday as the emir's choice for crown prince, which "blessed by the Al-Sabah family".

Two senior members of the Al-Sabah family were quick to pledge their loyalty to Sheikh Meshal, according to Al Jazeera.

Sheikh Meshal previously oversaw the country's intelligence services.

Known as a low-key and respected royal, Sheikh Meshal's experience in the interior ministry could see the current 83-year-old ruler delegate some of his domestic responsibilities to him, reports suggest.

"The emir will listen to his views, he will have an impact in that way," Kuwaiti political scientist and former UN envoy Ghanim Alnajjar told Reuters

"His focus will be security, the judiciary and other domestic issues."

He is said to have declined previous senior posts, according to the news agency, and known to be the "biggest enemy" of cronyism.

It follows a corruption scandal regarding senior members of the government that angered many in the Gulf state, who could face austerity measures as a result of a downturn in oil prices.

Kuwait is set to have a parliamentary election this year.

Kuwait's economy could shrink by 7.8 percent this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Read more: Will Kuwait's new emir continue to play role of Gulf mediator?

Dania Thafer, director of the Gulf International Forum, told Al Jazeera that Sheikh Meshaal is known as a close ally of the current emir.

"He has a very close relationship with the Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and is viewed to have good relations with neighbours such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE," said Thafer.

Kuwait's late ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah died on 29 September in the US.

His half-brother, Sheikh Nawaf, was sworn in as the new emir on 30 September marking a new chapter for the Gulf state.

Agencies contributed to this report

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