The head of the state’s office announced in a statement carried by the KUNA news agency on Saturday that the crown prince is to temporarily execute certain prerogatives of the 91-year-old emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah – his half-brother.
It said Sheikh Sabah, who has ruled the oil-rich Persian Gulf state since 2006, would undergo medical checkups, but gave no further details.
In September 2019, Kuwait’s ruler was admitted to hospital in the United States while on an official visit there, after suffering what his office described as a health setback back home in August. It led to a meeting with President Donald Trump being called off. He returned to the Arab country in October.
The emir underwent urinary tract surgery in the United States back in 2007. Sheikh Sabah had his appendix removed in 2002, two years after having a pacemaker implanted.
Separately, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait Mohammad al-Hashel issued a statement on Saturday following the news of the emir’s hospitalization, stressing the strength and stability of the dinar currency.
On Friday, S&P Global Ratings revised Kuwait’s outlook to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’, saying it expected the country’s main liquidity buffer, the General Reserve Fund, to be insufficient to cover the state budget deficit.
Kuwait’s finances have been badly hit by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, and the OPEC oil producer has been rapidly running down the General Reserve Fund.