Saudi king swears in new ministers, replacing those detained

AP
Saudi King Salman on Monday swore in new officials to succeed a powerful prince and former minister believed to have been detained in a large-scale sweep.
AP
Reuters

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud poses for a photo with National Guard Minister Khaled bin Ayyaf and Economy Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri during a swearing-in ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

Saudi King Salman on Monday swore in new officials to succeed a powerful prince and former minister believed to have been detained in a large-scale sweep that has shocked the country and upended long-standing traditions within the ruling family.

The official Saudi Press Agency released images of the king swearing in new National Guard chief Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf Al Muqrin and new Economy and Planning Minister Mohammad Al Tuwaijri.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who had led the National Guard for the past four years, and Adel Fakeih, who had been minister of economy since April, were both reportedly arrested as part of a purported anti-corruption investigation led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Miteb was once considered a contender for the throne, although he has not been thought of recently as a challenger to Prince Mohammed.

The arrests began late Saturday. Eleven princes and 38 officials and businessmen were reportedly being held at five-star hotels across Riyadh.

The king was also pictured meeting Lebanon’s departing prime minister, Saad Hariri, who unexpectedly resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia. The photographs of their meeting did little to quiet speculation over his surprising move and current status. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader and Hariri’s top political rival, argued on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign amid the deepening Saudi-Iran rivalry and questioned whether Saudi Arabia had also detained him in the sweep.

The highest-profile royal caught in the sweep is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an outspoken billionaire with investments in western companies. The company he chairs sought to reassure investors after its stock plunged following his arrest.

Kingdom Holding on Monday said that it maintained the government’s “vote of confidence” as it pursues its investment strategy and global business operations. 

The company has investments in Twitter, Apple, Lyft, Citigroup and hotel chains such as the Four Seasons, Movenpick and Fairmont.

Chief executive Talal Al Maiman said staff at the company, which manages more than US$12.5 billion of investments around the world, were “focused on their unwavering responsibilities to KHC’s shareholders and stakeholders.”

The company, which lost 7.5 percent in trading on Sunday, made no reference to its chairman’s arrest.

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