Saudi king announces new heirs

Saudi Arabia’s new king has announced a major Cabinet reshuffle that puts in place a new generation to succeed him.

King Salman has appointed his nephew, the powerful Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown prince.

The king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been made deputy crown prince and the foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, has been replaced.

King Salman, 78, acceded to the throne in January after the death of his half-brother Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

Abdullah, who was thought to be aged about 90, had been on the throne since 2005 and Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader for 10 years before that. The BBC’s Kim Ghattas, who was recently in Riyadh, says this latest reshuffle shows King Salman is firmly turning the page on the era of his predecessor.

He has pushed aside allies of the late monarch such as his half-brother Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, who until Wednesday was crown prince.

The rise of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the defence minister believed to be in his early 30s, means that for the first time a grandson of the kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz, is in line to rule.

Both men will continue in their ministerial roles.

The appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and deputy premier is likely to be welcomed by the United States, with whom he has a close relationship, our correspondent says.

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