World News

Factbox: Who will be Kuwait's next crown prince?

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah died on Tuesday aged 91 and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah was named the new ruler of the Gulf major oil exporter.

Iraq's President Barham Salih offers condolences to Kuwait's new Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah on the death of late Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, October 1, 2020. Kuwait News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Under the constitution, Sheikh Nawaf has up to a year to name a new heir to the throne. Analysts and Kuwaiti politicians expect a decision in the coming weeks, with dozens of senior al-Sabah dynasty members manoeuvring for position.

Parliament must approve the choice.

Here are the top favourites to be named Kuwait’s crown prince:

* Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad: A younger brother of the late emir. Born in 1940 he has since 2004 been deputy chief of the National Guard, which has played a prominent role in Kuwait’s efforts to combat COVID-19. He previously served as head of security services and in the interior ministry.

He has not held a government portfolio and has stayed clear of political battles that have claimed several ruling family members and ruined their chances of moving higher up the ranks.

* Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad: The 72-year-old eldest son of the later emir first entered the government in 2017 as defence minister after a decade working behind the scenes at the royal court. He lost the post last year in a cabinet reshuffle.

A key figure in Kuwait’s “Vision 2035” plan, business-minded Nasser has pushed to diversify the economy away from oil and strengthen relations with Asia.

As chair of Kuwait’s main planning committee, he advanced projects including the $82 billion economic hub Silk City in Kuwait’s north, which has met resistance from parliament.

He also held a lesser-known role as head of a joint Kuwaiti-Iranian committee called “Common Development Enterprises”, dedicated to increasing bilateral trade.

* Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed: A nephew of the late emir, the 79-year-old was prime minister from 2006 to 2011, when he stepped down amid protests over alleged government mismanagement and corruption, during which lawmakers stormed the parliament building to demand his resignation.

He remained close to the late emir, having served as minister of the royal court from 1991-2006. He was ambassador to Iran and Afghanistan during a 1964-1979 stretch at the foreign ministry. He was also a minister of state for foreign affairs.

During Iraq’s 1990-1991 occupation of Kuwait, Sheikh Nasser oversaw state media and launched a radio broadcast from exile.

Reporting by Gulf bureau; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Emelia Sithole-Matarise