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Qatar emir averts power struggle

Doha, Aug. 5 (Reuters): The emir of Qatar, a key US ally, named his fourth son as heir apparent today, replacing an older son as crown prince in a move analysts said was aimed to prevent any power struggle in the Gulf country.

Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani had accepted a decision by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to quit as crown prince, according to a royal decree carried by the news agency QNA.

Younger brother Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani will replace him in the role.

Both sons are in their 20s.

There was no official explanation for the sudden change, but diplomats said Sheikh Jassim had wanted wider powers and complained of being sidelined in the running of the oil-and-gas rich state.

One diplomat said the change was designed to pre-empt any chance of a new struggle for power in the country, which has seen several bloodless palace coups since it gained independence from Britain in 1971.

“Sheikh Jassim was often complaining about the lack of responsibilities in his office. His father did not want to take a chance with a discontented would-be heir, especially in view of the disorderly transfer of power through successive generations in the past,” the diplomat said.

“I think it was a precautionary move by the emir,” he added.

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