Kuwait To Swear In New Emir After Death Of Ruler

A file photo taken on February 20, 2006 shows Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah after taking the oath in parliament.  Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

 

Kuwait prepared Wednesday to swear in its new emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and to receive the body of his half-brother, the late ruler Sheikh Sabah who died in the US at the age of 91.

The body of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, an acclaimed diplomat and mediator who ruled for 14 years, is expected to arrive in Kuwait City later on Wednesday. He died the day before in Minnesota where he had been undergoing treatment in hospital since July.

According to the royal court, the funeral will be “restricted to the emir’s relatives” — a move likely designed to avoid large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kuwait’s new leader, 83-year-old Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf, is to be sworn in at an 0700 GMT session of the National Assembly. The country has already begun a 40-day period of national mourning.

Sheikh Sabah earned a reputation as a shrewd, unshakeable leader who helped steer his country through the 1990 Iraqi invasion, crashes in global oil markets and upheavals in parliament and on the streets.

File photo of late Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. (AFP Photo/Yasser Al-Zayyat).

 

World leaders and Kuwaitis alike have hailed the legacy of the late emir, the architect of the nation’s modern foreign policy and mediator in some of the worst crises to grip the Gulf.

“This man was the safety valve of the Arab world, not just for Kuwait,” Bandar al-Dahani, a Kuwaiti citizen, told AFP.

“God willing, that goodness will be in Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf and he will follow the emir’s path.”

– Generational transition looms –
Sheikh Nawaf, who has held high office for decades, takes over with Kuwait facing the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis, which triggered a sharp decline in oil prices and severe economic consequences for Gulf states.

The elder statesman, who was named heir apparent in 2006, served as defence minister when Iraqi troops rolled into the oil-rich emirate in 1990, and also as interior minister in the face of challenges from Islamist militants.

The new leader is popular within the ruling Al-Sabah family and is reported to have been a consensus choice for ruler. He also enjoys a reputation for modesty and has largely maintained a low profile.

Major policy changes are not expected during his reign, even after the Gulf underwent a seismic shift with Kuwait’s neighbours, the UAE and Bahrain, opting to establish relations with Israel.

Normalisation with the Jewish state is highly unpopular among the Kuwaiti public, which largely supports the Arab world’s historic position of demanding a resolution of the Palestinian cause before giving diplomatic concessions to Israel.

Despite expectations for a smooth succession, there could be more spirited debate over who the new crown prince should be.

Kuwait’s constitution stipulates that the ruler should be a descendant of the nation’s founder, Mubarak al-Sabah, but the throne has alternated between the descendants of his sons, Salem and Jaber, for four decades.

Contestants for the newly vacated role of crown prince include Sheikh Sabah’s son and former deputy prime minister Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti political heavyweight.

“Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed should be viewed more as a caretaker than as a watershed new leader,” said Cinzia Bianco, a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“Behind the scenes, however, younger princes would likely continue to compete to succeed him.”

AFP

Pompeo To Press Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Murder

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday arrived in Riyadh, where he is set to press Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hold the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi accountable.

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, embarked on his second politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate sparked an international outcry.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters in Qatar, before flying to the Saudi capital.

“We’ll… make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

After landing in Riyadh, Pompeo pushed for Saudi Arabia to continue its investigation into the murder, in talks with Adel al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs, and the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered on October 2 in what Saudi Arabia called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and subsequently straining ties between Riyadh and Washington.

Pompeo’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will be hosted by Prince Mohammed, is part of an extensive eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

Smiles with MBS 

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside international outrage to stand by Prince Mohammed over the murder of Khashoggi, whose corpse was dismembered at the consulate.

His support has come despite the US Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered the murder. A bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown prince responsible for the killing.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people and are seeking the death penalty against five of them. But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

However, Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the oil-rich kingdom, which he sees as a bulwark against common foe Iran and a lucrative buyer of US arms.

Rights groups have called on Pompeo to also press Prince Mohammed over the jailing of women activists in the kingdom, amid claims that some of them faced sexual harassment and torture during interrogation.

“I am struck by what is not included in Pompeo’s itinerary: the brave women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom’s prisons for seeking rights and dignity,” Alia al-Hathloul wrote in The New York Times Sunday.

Hathloul’s sister, Loujain, is among more than a dozen activists arrested last May — just before the historic lifting of Saudi Arabia’s decades-long ban on women drivers.

Gulf crisis 

Pompeo met the Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during his visit to Doha, where he refused to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.”

He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

However, Pompeo later admitted in a Q&A session with US embassy staff in Doha that no progress was made on resolving the issue.

Mediation efforts by the United States, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

AFP

Edo Govt. Declares Holiday For Oba Of Benin Coronation

Edo, Oba of Benin, Eheneden ErediauwaThe Edo State Government has declared Thursday, October 20 a public holiday in the state in south-south Nigeria.

The holiday was announced on Tuesday in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Julius Ihonvbere.

The public holiday is in honour of the Crown Prince, Ambassador Eheneden Erediauwa, Edaiken N’Uselu, whose coronation as the Oba of Benin holds same day.

The government hopes that the holiday would ensure a hitch-free coronation ceremony.

The statement added that the holiday would give residents of Edo State the opportunity to partake in the historic installation of the new Oba of Benin.

Edo Governorship Poll: Prince Erediauwa Warns Against Hate Campaign

Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Prince Eheneden ErediauwaCrown Prince of Benin Kingdom, HRH Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, has urged political parties in the 2016 governorship election in Edo State to promote peace rather than attacking each other during campaigns.

The Edaiken of N’Uselu gave the advice when the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) visited him at his Uselu palace in the Edo State capital, south-south Nigeria.

He assured the PDP delegation of playing a non-partisan role in matters concerning the coming September 10 governorship polls.

“I have tried to reiterate and re-emphasise (that) position of the crown in Benin is non-partisan.

“My appeal (to you is) to please maintain peace and tranquility when you are campaigning,” Prince Erediauwa said.

The PDP governorship candidate, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, said that the party faithful were at the palace to pay homage to the monarch.

“The paramount ruler of this entire kingdom is the Oba of Benin, symbolised by the Crown Prince, Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, the Edaiken N’Uselu.

“We have come this morning to pay homage to him and to inform him formally of our intention to begin campaign in his domain,” he said.

UK Commiserates With Benin Crown Prince Over Death Of Monarch

Oba of Benin
Late Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa of Benin,

British monarch, Queen Elizabeth the second has commiserated with the Crown Prince and the people of Benin Kingdom on the death of the Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa.

In a letter to Crown Prince, Eheneden Erediauwa made available to Channels Television, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, on behalf of the queen and the government as well as the people of the United Kingdom, extended his condolences.

“As we mourn his passage, we take solace in the knowledge that his reign was peaceful and witnessed a strengthening of the relationship and good friendship between the people of Benin Kingdom and the UK”, he said.

The Edo State Government had issued a statement announcing the death of the Oba of Benin in April 2016.

The statement, however, did not say when and how the monarch died.

Read full statement below.

“Our hearts are heavy, laden with pains and grief, at the announcement of the passing on to glory of Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa of Benin, our highly revered Oba, a distinguished Edo numero uno, an accomplished Nigerian, a seasoned bureaucrat, quintessential unifier, unique personage and exemplary Omo N’Oba, whose reign brought distinction, immense class, finesse and integrity to traditional institution in Edo state and the country at large.

“His carriage comes with an élan that was peculiar with the reverence of royalty. His uncommon courage was symbolic of the can-do spirit of the Edo mind. His unity of purpose was not in doubt even as he used his revered position to promote constructive engagement amongst all shades of opinion and culture in Edo state.

“As a thorough-bred bureaucrat, rising to the pinnacle of his career as a Federal Permanent Secretary, he understood the dynamics and intricacies of governance. He was the alternative voice to the many voiceless in our society, calling government attention to issues of development and transparent governance, without minding whose ox is gored. He was brave, fearless, punchy and instructive in his verbal and written messages.

“To us at the Edo state Government, he was our strongest supporter; both in his uncommon faith in our ability and his readiness to offer uncommon advice to sharpen public discourse in our shared commitment to transform Edo state. It gladdens our heart, therefore, that our revered Oba was alive to witness the positive transformation of Edo state under his reign, and for standing with us through thick and thin in the course of making the Edo economy a treasure to behold. Being part of that eloquent history of transformation before his reunion with his ancestors gives us further reassurance that he will occupy a special pride of place in the hereafter.

“We are enveloped with a deep sense of nostalgia that our great Oba, a great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and iconoclastic royal father of exemplary carriage and conduct, who sustained the dignity of the average Edo mind, has joined his ancestors. We are, however, encouraged by the fact that another great son of the Great Benin Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Edaiken N’Uselu, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, who is already showing manifest quintessential attributes of his great father, will step into his father’s big shoes.

“Edo people will miss our iconoclastic royal father of the great Benin Kingdom. Nigerians and Nigeria will miss this great exemplar of a Royal Father, an Oba of distinction and integrity. Adieu until we meet to part no more.

“Oba gha to kpere, ise.