Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan becomes President of the United Arab Emirates

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The rulers of the United Arab Emirates announced Saturday that they have unanimously appointed Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as president of this hereditarily ruled nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

The state news agency WAM said the rulers of the country’s seven emirates made the decision at a meeting held at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi.

It comes after the late President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died on Friday. The transition of power marks only the third time this US-allied nation of seven emirates has selected a president since becoming an independent nation in 1971.

The latest, in which Sheikh Khalifa took over from both him and Sheikh Mohammed’s father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, came a month after his death in 2004. The speed of Saturday’s announcement, just a day later , seemed designed to show unity and reassure the world about the stability of this crucial oil and gas-producing nation that hosts Western military forces.

WAM described the vote as unanimous among the country’s sheikdom rulers, which also includes the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai.

“We congratulate him, swear allegiance to him and our people pledge allegiance to him,” Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter after the vote. “The whole country is led by him to take him on. the paths of glory and honor, God willing.”

The UAE as a whole is observing a three-day mourning period in which businesses will be closed across the country and performances will be held in honor of Sheikh Khalifa. All electronic billboards featured the image of the late Sheikh in Dubai on Friday night as flags flew at half-staff.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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