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Updated December 16th, 2023 at 19:42 IST

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Nawaf passes away at 86, Sheikh Meshal becomes the new successor

Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah passed away at age 86 on Saturday. The cause of his death has not been revealed by the authorities yet.

 Kuwait’s then-Crown Prince Sheik Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Kuwait’s then-Crown Prince Sheik Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah | Image:AP
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Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah passed away at age 86 on Saturday. While announcing the passing of the Kuwaiti leader, the country's royal court said that 83-year-old Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah will be the successor of the veteran leader, The Guardian reported. Sheikh Meshal has been the de facto ruler of the country since 2021. While the royal court did not immediately reveal the main cause of the death, Sheikh Nawaf was struggling due to his frail health for a very long time.  

In late November, Sheikh Nawaf was taken to hospital due to an unclear illness. Nothing was revealed about the illness since then, The Guardian reported. The health of the Kuwaiti leader has remained a sensitive matter in the country which led to a major power struggle behind closed doors. “With great sadness and sorrow, we — the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the friendly peoples of the world — mourn the late His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who passed away to his Lord today,” said Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al Sabah, the minister of his emiri court, said in a brief statement which was aired by Kuwait state television. 

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The brief reign of Sheikh Nawaf 

The late Kuwaiti ruler swore in an emir in 2020, following the death of his predecessor,  the late Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who had ruled the country for more than a decade. Sheikh Nawaf previously served as Kuwait's interior and defence minister but was seen as a relatively active member of the government. He was born in the country before oil fully transformed Kuwait from a trading hub into a petrostate. With his demise, Sheikh Nawaf had the third-shortest tenure of any emir since the Al Sabah ruled Kuwait beginning in 1752.

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His rule had been focused on domestic issues as the nation struggled through political disputes — including the overhaul of Kuwait’s welfare system — which prevented the sheikhdom from taking on debt. In 2021, Sheikh Nawaf issued a long-awaited amnesty decree, pardoning and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents in a move aimed at defusing a major government standoff. While Sheikh Nwaf's tenure was limited, it was definitely impactful.

(With inputs from AP)

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Published December 16th, 2023 at 19:41 IST

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