Saudi King orders payout to state employees, reshuffles cabinet
Replaces intelligence heads and orders bonus for state employees
Riyadh: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, on Thursday further cemented his hold on power, with a sweeping shakeup that saw two sons of the late King Abdullah and the heads of intelligence and other key agencies replaced alongside a cabinet shuffle.
Top officials from the Ports Authority, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the kingdom’s religious police were among those let go.
The new appointments came a week after King Salman acceded to the throne following the death of King Abdullah.
King Salman also ordered “two months’ basic salary to all Saudi government civil and military employees,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Students and pensioners got similar bonuses.
“Dear people: You deserve more and whatever I do will not be able to give you what you deserve,” the king said later on his official Twitter account. He asked his citizens to “not forget me in your prayers”.
SPA said King Salman “issued a royal order today, relieving Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Abduaziz Al Saud, Chief of General Intelligence, of his post.” General Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Humaidan became the new intelligence chief, holding cabinet rank.
A separate decree said Prince Bandar bin Sultan was relieved from his posts as Secretary General of the National Security Council and adviser to the king.
Prince Bandar was the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States for 22 years until 2005 before moving to Saudi Arabia’s Security Council.
Two sons of the late king were also replaced: Prince Mishaal, governor of the Holy City of Makkah region, and Prince Turki, who governed the capital Riyadh, according to the decrees broadcast on Saudi television.
Another of King Abdullah’s sons, Prince Miteb, retained his position as minister in charge of the National Guard, a parallel army of around 200,000 men.
King Salman named a 31-member cabinet whose new faces include the ministers for culture and information, social affairs, civil service, and communications and information technology, among others.
Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, and Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf stayed in the cabinet.
King Salman merged the ministries of higher education and education, naming Azzam bin Mohammed Al Dakheel to head the super-ministry.
Saudi Arabia is trying to improve its basic education system and has built more universities as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.
Another decree replaced the chief of the country’s stock market regulator, ahead of a mid-year target for opening the Arab world’s largest bourse to foreign investors.
Hours after Abdullah died on January 23 Salman appointed his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as defence minister.
Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef became second in line to the throne, while Deputy Crown Prince Moqren, 69, was elevated to king-in-waiting.
Moqren would reign as the last son of the kingdom’s founder, Abdulaziz bin Saud, leaving Bin Nayef as the first of the “second generation,” or grandsons of Abdulaziz.
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