Saudi King Abdullah has died, brother Salman is new ruler
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Abdulaziz has died on Friday (Jan 23).
The new ruler is Crown Prince Salman, the OPEC-kingpin’s royal court said in a statement.
King Abdullah, believed to be around 90 years old, was hospitalised in December suffering from pneumonia and had been breathing with the aid of a tube.
He died on Friday “at 1 am (6 am Singapore time)” and will be buried later in the day following afternoon prayers, the statement added.
In recent years, his advanced age and poor health had raised concerns about the future leadership of one of the world’s key oil producers.
As the new king, Salman, 78, will have to navigate regional turmoil caused by wars in Iraq and Syria, as well as a bitter rivalry with Shi’ite Muslim power Iran and a lingering threat from an al-Qaeda wing in neighbouring Yemen.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, new king of Saudi Arabia. Photo:AFP PHOTO/HO/SPA
A reputed moderate with a deft understanding of the competing demands of conservative clerics, powerful tribes and an increasingly youthful population, Salman will also have the final say on social and economic reforms started under the late Abdullah.
“It appeared to me he had a good handle on the delicate balancing act he had to do to move society forward while being respectful of its traditions and conservative ways.” - Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador in Riyadh from 2001-03.
His crown prince will be his youngest half brother Prince Muqrin, a former intelligence chief who was appointed as deputy crown prince in March.
Source: AFP, Reuters