Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Wednesday dismissed his nephew Mohammed bin Naif as crown prince and replaced him with his son Mohammed bin Salman as first in line to the throne. According to Saudi TV news channel Al Arabiya, 31 out of 43 members of Saudi Arabia’s Allegiance Council voted in favour of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the new crown prince.
Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was also appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and will continue to hold his post of Defence Minister, according a royal decree cited by the state media. The royal reordering removed Prince Nayef, 57, both from his place in the line of succession and from his post as Interior Minister. He has pledged allegiance to the new crown prince, news agency SPA reported.
Prince Nayef was the kingdom’s security chief for many years and was known for his strong stance against Islamist militants. He was widely respected by Saudis and their foreign allies for dismantling Al Qaeda’s networks inside the kingdom. A young and relatively unknown prince, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, was named the new Interior Minister.
King Salman, 81, acceded to the throne in January 2015 after the death of his half-brother Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. He announced his first major cabinet reshuffle a few months later, appointing Prince Nayef as crown prince and Prince Salman as deputy crown prince, BBC reported.
As Defence Minister and deputy crown prince, Prince Salman led Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and oversaw the kingdom’s energy policy. He also spearheaded the development of a wide-ranging plan for the country’s future, called Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to decrease Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and loosen some social restrictions inside the kingdom.
Prince Salman visited the US in March, where he had lunch at the White House with US President Donald Trump. He praised the country’s relationship with the US, saying that without American influence “we would have ended up like North Korea”. Prince Salman also voiced support for “freedom of expression” and “human rights”.