Saturday, 24 January 2015

Last rites for King Abdullah - and appointment of new heirs

In keeping with Muslim tradition, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who died in the early hours of Friday, was buried already on the same day. After funeral prayers at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque, the King was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in the El-Ud public cemetery in Riyadh.
The King of Bahrain, the Emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, the Presidents of Turkey and Sudan and the Prime Ministers of Egypt and Pakistan attended the funeral, while other foreign dignitaries will arrive in Riyadh on Saturday to pay their condolences to the new King, Salman. Among those expected are the Kings of Sweden and Spain, Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, the Crown Princes of Denmark and Norway and US Vice President Joe Biden.
There were two interesting developments to the Saudi succession, one particularly significant, on Friday. Firstly, King Salman appointed his half-brother Muqrin Crown Prince. Muqrin, the youngest surviving son of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud), was appointed Deputy Crown Prince by King Abdullah in March last year. The choice was somewhat surprising as there is an older half-brother, Ahmed, and Muqrin is not the son of a Saudi mother, and some had wondered if King Salman upon his succession would appoint Ahmed Crown Prince. This did not happen, and King Salman also appointed the Interior Minister, Prince Mohammed, the son of the late Crown Prince Nayef, Deputy Crown Prince, signifying that after the deaths of Salman, who is 79, and Muqrin, who is 69, the Saudi succession will at last move from the approximately 45 sons of Ibn Saud to the third generation of the House of Saud.

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