Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has appointed Interior Minister Prince Naïf as the new Crown Prince, the Royal Court said in a statement issued today, signaling an orderly process of future succession in the world's largest oil exporter.
"We chose HRH Prince Naïf bin Abdul Aziz as Crown Prince," said the statement, read on state television and carried on the Kingdom's news agency SPA soon after midnight.
It said Naïf, who is in his 70s, was appointed after King Abdullah took his choice to a royal family body called the Allegiance Council, set up in 2006 to make the process of succession in the conservative Islamic nation smoother and more orderly.
It was the first time the Council had been involved in the appointment of a new Crown Prince, a move that analysts had said would help to regulate an opaque system of succession.
Crown Prince Sultan died of colon cancer in New York almost a week ago. He was also the Kingdom's Defense and Aviation Minister for nearly five decades. No replacements for these positions have yet been appointed.
Prince Naïf has been the Interior minister since 1975, a post to which he was reappointed in the Royal Court statement.
In recent years he has run the Kingdom on a day-to-day basis when King Abdullah and Prince Sultan were both absent. King Abdullah's recurrent back problem has caused him to go abroad for medical treatment.
Prince Naïf, a half-brother of King Abdullah, was born around 1933 in Al Taif, the pretty mountain town where the Royal Court repaired each year to escape the stifling summer of the capital Riyadh and the second city Jeddah.
Growing up in the Royal Court of the 1930s and 1940s, Prince Naïf is of the last generation of Saudis who knew the austere desert Kingdom before the first flush of oil wealth changed it beyond all recognition.
As Interior Minister, Prince Naïf led a successful effort to end a wave of Al Qaeda attacks inside the Kingdom from 2003.
Source: Reuters; SPA