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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 13:35 GMT
Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Jaber buried
The body of Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah is carried through a crowd in Kuwait
Thousands of people lined the streets to see off their ruler
The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, has been buried, hours after his death.

Thousands of Kuwaitis crammed the al-Sulaibikhat cemetery as he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. Kuwait has declared 40 days of mourning.

Sheikh Jaber, in his late 70s, had led the country since December 1977, but was seldom seen in public after suffering a minor stroke in 2001.

Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah, 76, has been appointed emir.

However, he is also said to be in poor health.

Concerns have grown in recent years for the Gulf state's future leadership.

The announcement of the emir's death on Sunday was made on state television. Government offices will close for three days.

Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah attends parliament's opening in 2003
Sheikh Jaber had led Kuwait for nearly 30 years

Sheikh Jaber, who held the post of prime minister from 1965-78 and was heir-apparent from 1966, was the 13th ruler of a 245-year-old dynasty.

He survived an assassination attempt in 1985 and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

He fled to Saudi Arabia, where he established a government in exile, returning in March 1991 after a massive US-led international military campaign ousted the Iraqi forces.

Under Sheikh Jaber's rule, Kuwait has built close ties with the US and the UK.

With sorrow and grief, we mourn to the Kuwaiti people and to the Arab and Muslim nations, the death of his highness the emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah
Kuwaiti court statement

The first Arab country in the Gulf to have an elected parliament, its ruling family has recently come under increasing pressure to loosen its hold on power.

The BBC's Gulf correspondent, Julia Wheeler, says Sheikh Jaber was a decisive ruler in his early days who rose swiftly through the ranks.

However, his exile during the invasion by Iraq had a traumatic effect on him and he rarely appeared in public after his return, she says.

His later years will be remembered chiefly for electoral reforms which have seen women take public office and will give them the right to vote in parliamentary elections in 2007, our correspondent adds.

Ailing successor

Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah is one of his distant cousins. He was chosen as the heir apparent in 1978.

Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah
The crown prince has been in ill health for several years

The crown prince was admitted to hospital in June last year suffering from a high level of blood glucose. He had previously been treated abroad for other ailments.

Although he was deputising for Sheikh Jaber, the crown prince's ill health meant many of the emir's daily duties were handed to Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Sheikh Jaber appointed Sheik Sabah - his own brother - as prime minister in 2003, breaking with a political tradition that crown princes also serve as heads of government.

Sheikh Jaber's death comes only 10 days after that of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who died aged 62 while visiting Australia.

In pictures: Emir of Kuwait's funeral
15 Jan 06 |  In Pictures
Emir of Kuwait: Your comments
15 Jan 06 |  Have Your Say
Obituary: Sheikh Jaber, Emir of Kuwait
15 Jan 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: Kuwait
15 Jan 06 |  Country profiles
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12 Oct 05 |  Middle East
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