Saudi crown prince dies
Prince Nayef, next in line to the throne, has died, Saudi state television reports.
Prince Nayef was named crown prince in October last year [EPA]
|The crown prince of Saudi Arabia has died, state television reports.
Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who became heir to the throne last year at the age of 78, was also the head of the country’s interior ministry.
Nayef was recently abroad for medical treatment and had “died outside the kingdom,” said Al-Ekhbariyah Television,
He was shown on television in Geneva, Switzerland, three days ago greeting supporters.
Saturday’s statement from King Abdullah said the prince would be buried after sunset prayers in the Muslim holy
The nature of his illness has not been made public.
Less than two weeks ago, his brother Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz was quoted as saying in a Saudi daily that the crown prince was in “good health” and that he would “soon” return to the kingdom.
Nayef was appointed crown prince after the death of his elder brother and predecessor in the role, Crown Prince Sultan.
Nayef has earned a reputation as a traditionalist who is opposed to changes in the country’s power structure.
He was appointed governor of Riyadh when he was barely 20 years old, and held the position briefly before entering the interior ministry. After a stint as deputy, he was elevated to interior minister in 1975, when his brother Fahd left the post to become crown prince.
Nayef is popular with some Western government for efforts to combat al-Qaeda. His son, Muhammad bin Nayef, the deputy interior minister for counterterrorism, was targeted by a suicide bomber in 2009.
Nayef’s death means the 89-year-old King Abdullah must nominate a new heir for the second time in nine months.
Khaled al-Maeena, editor in chief of the Saudi Gazette told Al Jazeera that there was no cause for alarm.
“The secession in the Saudi household has always been very orderly, very organised”, he said, adding that an announcement was expected after the first three days of morning.
Defence Minister Prince Salman, 76, seen as likely to continue King Abdullah’s cautious reforms, has long been viewed
Nayef, King Abdullah and Salman are among the nearly 40 sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdulaziz ibn Saud, who established the kingdom in 1935.
Salman was made defence minister in November and had served as Riyadh governor for five decades.