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

A June 2019 photo shows Kuwait's emir attending an Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: AFP

KUWAIT (REUTERS) - Kuwait's 91-year-old ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was admitted to hospital on Saturday (July 18) for medical checks, and the country's crown prince will temporarily carry out some of his duties, the state news agency Kuna reported.

It said Sheikh Sabah, who has ruled the Opec oil producer and US ally since 2006, would undergo a number of medical checkups, but it gave no further details.

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.

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.

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