Kuwait parliament, in unprecedented move, votes unanimously to name new emir

Parliament voted unanimously on Sunday to name Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah as the new emir of the tiny, oil-rich U.S. ally, ending an unprecedented leadership crisis that saw the legislature vote to oust the former leader.

The new emir, the former prime minister, was not present for the 64-0 vote marking the first time in Kuwait's history that he parliament has had a role in choosing the emir, a matter that has been the business of the ruling family for hundreds of years.

The confirmation put an official end to a leadership struggle and a family struggle within the ruling Al Sabah family assumed crisis proportions when Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah died Jan. 15, leaving an ailing prince as successor.

Lawmakers called the new leader the "emir of reform" and the "hope of Kuwait" for a better future.

Legislator Mohammed al-Saqr said on the new emir to appoint an heir-apparent as soon as possible so that there would be no repeat of the succession crisis.

"What is needed it the appointment of a crown prince before appointing a prime minister," he told the house chamber. Until 2003, the crown prince and the prime minister positions were held by one man.

Extended applause followed the vote which was attended by about 700 dignitaries and ambassadors. The emir was to take the oath about 12:30 p.m. (0930gmt) Sunday, AP reported. V.A.

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