A Kuwaiti court ruled Wednesday that Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah should transfer some of his powers to his deputy, in a ruling seen as a challenge to the powerful office, news agencies reported.
The emir, who holds full executive and legislative powers, will still be head of the state, have key diplomatic posts and have direct oversight of the armed forces, the al-Jarida and Sabah al-Ahmad newspapers reported.
The top court upheld a ruling by a lower tribunal that had also given the emir duties to his deputy.
“The Ministry of the Interior (must transfer) from the emir to the deputy to (conduct) the security affairs,” the papers reported.
A survey by The National in October last year showed that despite being married to a non-Kuwaiti woman, the emir was the most influential person in the Gulf emirate.
Kuwaiti law states that the ruler – in a system similar to British royalty – can retain the title “Emir” as long as he remains in Kuwait.
The ruler is given a clause in the constitution outlining that he will lead the country until his death or natural death.
If there is no death, he stays as ruler for only a short period of time before handing over to his heir apparent.
The court ruling said that the emir’s powers would include the “collection of information, receiving reports, directions and permission on dealing with the affairs of the country and how to protect the homeland”.
It will also be the officer charged with resolving “cases involving matters related to national security”.
The court also will be responsible for “promotion, punishment and disciplinary measures” against any of his privates.
It was not immediately clear what powers the current emir, who was born on 29 September 1939, would retain.
He rules over the OPEC member’s 2.7 million population from a palace overlooking Kuwait city.
Parliament is an elected chamber, which Sheikh Sabah heads himself. The body also has 200 government appointees, which he can dismiss.
The ruling has been referred to a “legal source” for further legal action, which could lead to another court ruling, the newspapers said.