Qatar emir says steps down, hands power to son

June 25, 2013 08:19

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said on Tuesday he was stepping down and handing power to his son Sheikh Tamim, explaining it was time for a new generation to take over.

In a speech broadcast on Qatar state television, Sheikh Hamad made no direct mention of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who had been widely expected to also step down.

"God knows that I didn't want power in itself and I didn't seek it for personal reason," said the emir, who overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1995.

Diplomats had said the 61-year-old emir had long planned to abdicate in favour of his 33-year-old Crown Prince.

Qatar is a small country of only 2 million people, but is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, a global investment powerhouse and a financial backer of Arab Spring revolts.

Qatari political analyst Mohammed al-Misfer said he did not expect major changes to foreign policy or domestic plans after the handover, adding that Sheikh Tamim was already involved in running the country under his father's direction.

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