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Kuwait: New Emir Sworn In before National Assembly

(Oct. 14, 2020) On September 30, 2020, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah was sworn in before the Kuwaiti National Assembly as the country’s new emir. Sheikh Nawaf is the half-brother of the late emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, who died in the United States in September at the age of 91. Sheikh Nawaf was previously crown prince, having been appointed by the late emir in 2006. He also served as the Kuwaiti minister of defense and interior.

Succession Rules

Under the Kuwaiti Constitution as amended in 1992, Kuwait is a hereditary emirate held in succession for the descendants of Mubarak Al Sabah, the seventh ruler of Kuwait. (Const. art. 4, para. 1.) Article 3 of Law No. 4 of 1964 reiterates that only descendants of Mubarak al Sabah may rule the country.

The cabinet exercises the powers of the head of state after the death of an emir until a new one is sworn in by the National Assembly. A new emir must be sworn in within eight days from the day the position of emir becomes vacant. (Law No. 4 of 1964, art. 4.) Before the new emir begins his functions, he must take the following oath before the National Assembly:

I swear by God Almighty to respect the Constitution and the Laws of the State, to defend the people’s liberties, their interests, and their property, and to safeguard the Nation’s independence and the safety of its territories. (Const. art. 60.)

Appointment of Crown Prince

A new emir must appoint a crown prince within one year from the date of his appointment. The majority of the members of the Kuwaiti National Assembly must then approve the appointment of the crown prince during a special session. Under the Constitution, the crown prince must have attained the age of majority, be sane, and be a legitimate son of Muslim parents. (Const. art. 4(2).) However, the Law on Succession requires not only that the crown prince must have attained the age of majority, but that he also must be no less than thirty years of age. (Law No. 4 of 1964, art. 6.)

On October 7, 2020, Emir Sheikh Nawaf appointed Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as the new crown prince. On the following day, the National Assembly approved the appointment.