Saudi king delegates deputy PM to oversee Haj

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has appointed the second deputy prime minister to oversee the Haj pilgrimage.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sat 13 Nov 2010, 1:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:11 AM

Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, also the Interior Minister, is to oversee the annual Haj, when some two million Muslim pilgrims will gather in the holy city of Mecca, the state news agency reported on Saturday, a day after doctors ordered rest for the ruler due to a slipped disc.

King Abdullah, who took charge in the key US ally in 2005, is estimated to be 86 or 87-years-old.

Prince Nayef, thought to be about 76, was appointed second deputy prime minister in 2009, a move which analysts said places him in a strong position to become crown prince or king one day.

Nayef, a half-brother of the king and full-brother of the crown prince, has been in the holy city of Mecca this week, supervising security arrangements for the Haj.

Crown Prince Sultan, the king’s half-brother who is also in his 80s, has been abroad for unspecified health treatment for much of the last two years and diplomats in Riyadh say he has not resumed full duties. He is outside the country after leaving for what was described in August as a holiday in Morocco.

Political stability in the monarchy is of global concern.

Analysts say the king’s appointment of Nayef to the post could avert a power vacuum in the event of serious health problems afflicting the king and crown prince.

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