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Kuwait's emir in hospital, crown prince takes over some duties

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (L) is welcomed by Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah (R) in Kuwait City, Kuwait on 30 September 2018 [BANDAR ALGALOUD/Anadolu Agency]
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (L) is welcomed by Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah (R) in Kuwait City, Kuwait on 30 September 2018 [BANDAR ALGALOUD/Anadolu Agency]

Kuwait’s 91-year-old ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was admitted to hospital on Saturday, and underwent successful surgery on Sunday morning, with the country’s crown prince temporarily carrying out some of his duties, Reuters quoted a report by the state news agency KUNA.

Sheikh Sabah has ruled the OPEC oil producer and US ally since 2006. His office, in a statement carried by state news agency KUNA, did not specify what kind of surgery he underwent.

A royal order was issued assigning Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, the emir’s designated successor, “to take over some constitutional jurisdictions of His Highness the Emir temporarily”, KUNA said in a separate statement.

Last year, Sheikh Sabah was admitted to hospital in the United States while on an official visit there, after suffering what his office described as a health setback in Kuwait in August. He returned to the Gulf Arab state in October.

Read: Kuwait issues arrest warrant for ex-premier’s son

Kuwait’s central bank governor issued a statement on Saturday after news of the emir’s hospitalisation stressing the strength and stability of the dinar currency, which is pegged to a weighted basket of the country’s big trading partners.

S&P Global Ratings on Friday revised Kuwait’s outlook to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’, saying it expects the country’s main liquidity buffer, the General Reserve Fund, to be insufficient to cover the state budget deficit.

The government has been trying to bolster its finances which have been hit by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, and has been rapidly running down the General Reserve Fund.

Read: Kuwait shrinks oil budget by 25%

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