Saudi Arabia has named Prince Salman its new crown prince, heir apparent to the 89-year-old King Abdullah, after the death of Crown Prince Nayef on Saturday, state TV says citing a royal decree.
The 76-year-old prince will retain his role as defence minister, a post he was appointed to in October; he will also become the deputy prime minister.
Salman served for nearly five decades as the governor of Riyadh, the desert metropolis which today houses more than five million people. He is seen as a less reactionary figure than Nayef, but still tends towards political conservatism.
In a 2007 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, he argues against introducing democracy to Saudi Arabia because of regional and tribal divisions. “He [Salman] said that the [kingdom] is composed of tribes and regions, and if democracy were imposed, each tribe and region would have its political party,” the cable said.
He will be Saudi Arabia’s third crown prince in less than a year: Nayef’s predecessor, Prince Sultan, died in October of an unspecified illness.
Salman’s younger brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, was appointed the new interior minister, filling a post Nayef had held since 1975. Ahmed had long been Nayef’s deputy.
Nayef’s son, Mohammed bin Nayef, remains an assistant interior minister, and is expected to play a major role in the ministry’s day-to-day operations.