RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (BNO NEWS) — Saudi Arabian King Abdullah on late Monday appointed Prince Salman as the kingdom’s new crown prince and deputy premier in addition to his existing defense post, according to a royal decree released by the interior ministry.
The appointment comes after Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died of heart problems at his brother’s residence in the Swiss city of Geneva on Saturday. His body was later flown to Saudi Arabia’s western city of Jeddah and then taken to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, where Naif was buried on Sunday at the Al-Adl cemetery near the Grand Mosque.
The royal decree issued on Monday said King Abdullah had chosen 76-year-old Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud to become the new crown prince. Salman previously served as Governor of Riyadh Province and was appointed Minister of Defense in November 2011 following the death of his brother Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Salman will continue to serve as defense minister and has also been appointed as the kingdom’s deputy premier.
Also on Monday, King Abdullah chose Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz to take over as interior minister. Crown Prince Naif had previously served as interior minister since early 1975, when then-Interior Minister Prince Fahd was appointed crown prince following the assassination of King Faisal.
Following Monday’s announcement, U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated King Abdullah and the Saudi people on the selection of Prince Salman. “Crown Prince Salman has served his country with dedication and honor over the past five decades,” he said. “I had the pleasure of receiving him at the White House this April and know that he is a man of deep faith who is committed to improving the lives of the people of Saudi Arabia and to the security of the region.”