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Jun 15 2013

Qatar's Emir Preparing to Transfer Power to His Son -Officials

Saturday, Jun 15, 2013

DOHA, Qatar (AFP)--Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is preparing to hand control of the gas-rich Gulf state to his son, Qatari diplomats and officials said.

A cabinet reshuffle is also expected in which powerful Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani may lose his post, or at least the foreign affairs portfolio, the sources said.

A Qatari official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the emir "is convinced that he should encourage the new generation" of politicians and rulers.

"He hopes to transfer power to the crown prince, Sheikh Tamim [bin Hamad al-Thani], and to carry out a ministerial reshuffle" and appoint younger ministers, the minister said.

Sheikh Tamim, born in 1980, is the second son of the emir and his second wife Sheikha Mozah.

The crown prince is joint commander of the armed forces and head of the country's Olympic committee.

Political sources said that the premier, a cousin of the emir, could lose the foreign affairs portfolio he has held since 1992, and maybe even the premiership, which he has held since 2007, in a reshuffle.

A French diplomatic source told AFP that the emir could "take a step back, that is, not completely retire but take on a more honorary position, in such a way that his son could take on more responsibilities and become the man in charge."

Qatar has become a key regional player thanks to its support for the Arab uprisings.

The prime minister has played a key role in Qatar's foreign policy, which saw the country take part in the armed intervention against former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Qatar also actively supports Syrian rebels who have battled the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

The emir, born in 1952, came to power in 1995 in a palace coup, and has overseen the transition of modern Qatar into a key regional and international player.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

15-06-13 1402GMT


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