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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Kuwait's new ruler Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Sabah on Wednesday named Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah as crown prince, state-run Kuna news agency announced.
Sheikh Meshal is deputy chief of the National Guard and a brother of the late emir, who died last Tuesday.
The selection of Sheikh Meshal, which must be approved by Parliament, "was blessed by the Al Sabah family," read a statement from the emir's office.
Earlier two members of Kuwait's ruling family posted messages on Twitter pledging allegiance to Sheikh Meshal as crown prince.
Sheikh Nawaf assumed power following the death of his brother Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad last week.
The country's Speaker said MPs could vote on the crown prince on Thursday, the last day of the Parliament’s term.
Sheikh Meshal is known as a forceful figure who steered clear of political battles and public roles, spending much of his career helping build the Gulf Arab state's security and defence apparatus.
Close to the late Sheikh Sabah and new Emir Sheikh Nawaf, Kuwait experts say, he is expected to take an active role in helping guide state affairs.
"The emir will listen to his views, he will have an impact in that way," said Kuwaiti political scientist and former UN envoy Ghanim Alnajjar. "His focus will be security, the judiciary and other domestic issues."
Sheikh Meshal, 80, has been deputy chief of the National Guard since 2004 and was head of State Security for 13 years after joining the Interior Ministry in the 1960s. He was offered several senior positions but declined them, experts say.
Sheikh Meshal, who attended Britain's Hendon Police College, was credited with helping to reform Kuwait's National Guard. Kuwaiti journalist Faisal Al Qanae once described him as the "biggest enemy" of cronyism and law breaking.
Sheikh Meshal's appointment traditionally works as a conduit between the ruling family and the lively national assembly, which will see elections later this year.
The roles of the heir apparent and prime minister were split in 2003 due to the health of the then-crown prince. The premier has since dealt with frequent gridlock between the hand-picked Cabinet and the Parliament, which has recently been at odds with ministers over debt issuing, investment and economic reforms.
Observers say that while Sheikh Nawaf and Sheikh Meshal kept a low public profile, the latter has stronger views.
Sheikh Nawaf, who is seen upholding Kuwait's current oil, investment and foreign policies, takes the helm as the country faces a liquidity crisis caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, which the National Guard has played a visible role in combating.
Diplomats and analysts say the immediate focus will be on domestic issues with perceived corruption, living standards and the economy the top priorities for most Kuwaitis in a country.
Deutsche Bank has estimated that Kuwait's nearly $140 billion economy could shrink by 7.8 per cent this year in what would be one of the worst economic crunches among Gulf oil exporters.
Key will be co-operation between Cabinet and the outspoken Parliament, the Gulf region's oldest legislature that wields power to block bills and question ministers. Clashes have led to successive government reshuffles or dissolution of Parliament.
In the past, the body was often dominated by opposition groups until Sheikh Sabah broke their hold in 2012 by using executive powers to amend the voting system.
Kuwaiti opposition figures have proposed electoral reforms and a pardon for dissidents in recent meetings with Sheikh Nawaf before he assumed power.
"Reformers and independents are looking for reconciliation [with the government], enhancing freedom of speech, economic and political reforms, combating corruption, demographics," Mr Alnajjar said.
"It will be difficult to amend the electoral law with elections coming up ... but anything is possible."
Updated: October 7, 2020 01:42 PM
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