Emir wants to take oath

The speaker of parliament said on Saturday the newly named but ailing emir wants to take the oath of office, signaling discord within the ruling family. Some in the family had asked that the prime minister, half brother to the former emir who died a week ago, be named to take charge of the country because Sheik Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah was too ill.

"Yes, I received a letter from his highness the emir asking for a (parliamentary) session so that he can take the oath," Jassem al-Kharafi, the speaker, told reporters. Al-Kharafi said he was going to meet the emir, but he did not give a date.

Sheik Saad, who is in his mid-70s, took over Sunday, the same day the late emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, died of natural causes. He suffered a brain hemorrhage five years ago. Sheik Sadd was in a wheelchair at his predecessor's funeral and in brief public appearances since. He showed little reaction as Kuwaitis paid their condolences.

Sheik Saad's health has deteriorated since he suffered from a bleeding colon in 1997, and many lawmakers have expressed concern that he might not be physically able even to take the complete oath of office.

Prime Minister Sheik Sabah agreed to a request by some members of the ruling family to take charge of the country on Friday because of the new emir's ill health, a move which was seen as a first step to his taking over the top office. Members of the Al Salem branch of the family, however, appear to have objected to the move and were shown on state television meeting Sheik Sabah at his residence, reports the AP. N.U.