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Saudi King Appoints Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Prime Minister

RIYADH (Reuters) – A royal decree on Tuesday showed Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz appointing his son and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman as prime minister and his second son, Prince Khalid, as defense minister.

In a royal decree published by the Saudi Press Agency, the old king said the ministerial reshuffle kept another son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, as energy minister.

The decision indicates that Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Muhammad al-Jadaan and Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih are still in office.

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The crown prince, known as Mohammed bin Salman, was promoted from defense minister and is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter and a key US ally in the Middle East.

A Saudi official said his new role as prime minister was in line with the king’s previous delegation of duties, including representing the kingdom on overseas visits and chairing summits hosted by the kingdom.

The official, who asked not to be named, said: “His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, by order of the King, is already overseeing the main executive organs of the country on a daily basis, and his new role as prime minister in this context.”

The official said that this delegation of duties has historically occurred in the kingdom on several occasions.

Prince Khalid bin Salman, Mohammed bin Salman’s younger brother, previously served as deputy defense minister.

The crown prince said the kingdom had increased its self-sufficiency in the military industry from 2% to 15% and plans to reach 50% under the new defense minister, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The decision indicates that King Salman will continue to chair the cabinet meetings he attends. After the decree was issued, state television showed a picture of the king presiding over the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The 86-year-old king, custodian of Islam’s holiest site, became ruler in 2015 after spending more than two and a half years as crown prince. He has been hospitalized several times in the past two years due to various ailments.

The Saudi crown prince has radically transformed Saudi Arabia since he came to power in 2017, spearheading efforts to diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil, which allows women to drive and limits clerical power.

But his reforms came with a crackdown on dissent, jailing activists, members of the royal family, women’s rights activists and businessmen.

The 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul tarnished his reputation and strained the kingdom’s relations with the United States and other Western allies.

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Naira Abdullah states that no translation is available. Written by Aziz Al-Yaqoubi. Edited by Jonathan Otis and Christopher Cushing

Our Criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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