DUBAI: Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said died on Friday evening, state media said early on Saturday without mentioning a cause of death, and a three-day period of national mourning was declared.
Qaboos, 79, had ruled the Gulf Arab state since he took over in a bloodless coup in 1970.
Qaboos had no children and had not publicly appointed a successor. A 1996 statute says the ruling family will choose a successor within three days of the throne becoming vacant.
If they fail to agree, a council of military and security officials, supreme court chiefs and heads of the two consultative assemblies will put in power the person whose name has been secretly written by the sultan in a sealed letter.
However, two Omani newspapers claimed that Oman’s new ruler will be Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said. He reportedly took the oath of allegiance as sultan to succeed his cousin Qaboos bin Said.
There was no official Omani government confirmation of the report posted by Al-Watan and Al-Roya newspapers on their Twitter accounts.
A three-day period of official mourning for the public and private sectors has been declared, and flags are to be flown at half mast for 40 days, state media said.
Oman state news agency ONA said Qaboos died after “a wise and triumphant march rich with generosity that embraced Oman and extended to the Arab, Muslim and entire world and achieved a balanced policy that the whole world respected.”
Qaboos had been unwell for years and had spent a week in Belgium undergoing medical treatment in early December.
Oman’s official television announces the inauguration of Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, Sultan of the country on Saturday.
Al-Watan and Al-Roya newspapers had reported earlier on their Twitter accounts that Tariq Al-Said took the oath of allegiance as sultan to succeed his cousin Qaboos bin Said who died on Friday.
Earlier reports said that the Council of Oman held an emergency session on Saturday morning at its headquarters in Al-Bustan.
Qaboos had no children and had not publicly appointed a successor.
Tariq Al-Said was serving as the Minister of National Heritage and Culture. He graduated from Oxford University in 1979 after studying the Foreign Service Programme.
Tariq Al-Said, often played an important diplomatic role, representing Oman abroad and welcoming Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, for example, upon their arrival to the country for a visit in 2016.