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Published On:27 June 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Qatar's emir abdicates, hands throne to his son

Doha: Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani handed power on Tuesday to his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim, taking the rare step for a Gulf Arab ruler of voluntarily ceding power to try to ensure a smooth succession.

In a seven-minute speech aired on state television, the emir said it was time for a new generation to take over following his 18 years at the helm of the small, rich state.

"The time has come to open a new page in the journey of our nation that would have a new generation carry the responsibilities ... with their innovative ideas," said Sheikh Hamad, adding "I address you today to inform you that I will transfer power to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.”

His decision to abdicate sees Tamim propelled into the youngest sovereign of any of the Gulf Arab monarchies.

The emir did not specify when the change would take effect but a Qatari official had said the move, once announced, would take immediate effect.

But the 61-year-old emir made no immediate mention of the public face of Qatar's assertive foreign policy, prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, a veteran politician who had been expected also to step down.

Diplomats have said the emir, who overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1995, had long planned to abdicate in favor of 33-year-old Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim.

Tuesday was a national holiday in the country of a one-family absolute monarchy that has ruled over for more than 130 years.

The royal court has invited Qataris to go to swear allegiance to Sheikh Tamim on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On the eve of the power transfer, Sheikh Hamad issued a decree extending the term of the advisory Shura council, in effect indefinitely postponing elections that had been tentatively scheduled for the second half of the year.

The election would have been the first to the Shura Council, 30 of whose 45 members are meant to be elected, with the others appointed by the emir, under a constitution approved in 2003. All the body's current members are appointed.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the dominant Gulf Arab power, congratulated Sheikh Tamim on his accession, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Tamim, born in 1980, is the second son of the emir and his second wife Sheikha Mozah and has been groomed for years to take the helm of the super-rich Western ally.

The British-educated Tamim is deputy commander of the armed forces and head of the National Olympic Committee. He also chairs the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee in charge of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Diplomats said that over the past three years the emir has increasingly transferred military and security responsibilities to Tamim, who like his father went to the British military academy Sandhurst.

Analyst Neil Partrick, an expert on the Gulf, ruled out major changes in Qatar.

"For Qatari foreign policy, none of this seems likely to produce major change. The young heir apparent Tamim is unlikely to effect major changes without consulting his father," Partrick said.

Under Sheikh Hamad, Qatar played a role in Middle East affairs massively out of proportion to its size, becoming a major backer of the Arab Spring uprisings in both Libya and Syria.

Just last weekend, the Qatari capital hosted a meeting of the Friends of Syria group of Arab and Western governments that back the opposition at which they agreed to boost support to the rebels.

(Courtesy: Al-Akhbar)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on June 27, 2013. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on June 27, 2013. Filed under , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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