Kuwait mourns demise of ex-emir

Published May 14th, 2008 - 07:41 GMT

Kuwait started a three-day mourning period on Wednesday following the death of former emir Sheikh Saad Abdullah al-Sabah, and campaigning for Saturday's general election was suspended. Sheikh Saad, 78, who was emir for just nine days, died late Tuesday after a long illness.


The 274 candidates standing in the legislative election suspended their campaigns for three days, AFP reported. Banks, the stock market and most of private sector institutions will also be closed.


The government however stressed that the election, called after a new politicial crisis in the Gulf emirate, will not be delayed.


Sheikh Saad succeeded to the throne in January 2006 after the death of his predecessor, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. But he was deposed by parliament after only nine days on health grounds. Born in 1930, Sheikh Saad was the eldest son of the late Sheikh Abdullah al-Salem al-Sabah, the 11th emir of Kuwait, known as the father of independence and the constitution.


He served as Kuwait's crown prince for over 30 years, and as prime minister for 25 years before he relinquished the post in 2003 due to poor health.


In January 1962, Sheikh Saad was appointed interior minister in the first Kuwaiti cabinet after independence from Britain the previous year. In 1964, he was also put in charge of defence.


In early 1997, he underwent colon surgery. He had travelled repeatedly to Britain and the United States for tests and treatment as his health deteriorated.


He was married to his immediate cousin Sheikha Latifa. He has one son, Fahd, and three surviving daughters. Two other daughters have died.

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