Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has appointed his half-brother and country's former intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz as the deputy crown prince, paving the way for him to become a future monarch.
"Prince Muqrin will receive oath of allegiance as crown prince in case the position becomes vacant, and as king in case the positions of king and crown prince become vacant," a royal decree issued by King Abdullah said yesterday.
Prince Muqrin, 68, the second deputy premier, is the youngest son of the Kingdom's founder King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.
The appointment makes him the next in line to ascend the Saudi throne after 89-year-old King Abdullah and 78-year-old Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, the Arab News reported. King Abdullah ascended the throne on August 1, 2005, upon the death of his half-brother King Fahd.
King Abdullah has emphasised that nobody would be allowed to change the appointment of Prince Muqrin as deputy to the crown prince or replace him since the Allegiance Council, the body responsible for determining future succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia, has approved his new appointment.
He said both himself and Crown Prince Salman signed a document to this effect on March 20.King Abdullah said the royal decree was issued to strengthen the Kingdom's unity and stability."The members of the Allegiance Council expressed their opinion on the appointment of Prince Muqrin as deputy crown prince upon consent from both myself and Crown Prince Salman," said King Abdullah. He said the majority of members, which exceed three-quarters of those present, backed the appointment.
King Abdullah said Prince Muqrin would continue in his present position as second deputy premier.
The decree also stated that the king would have the right to propose his candidate to the Allegiance Council in future if he wanted to appoint a deputy crown prince and issue a royal decree for that appointment following the council's approval.
Prince Muqrin has held many important positions in the government, including director of intelligence and governor of Hail and Madinah.
He graduated with a degree in aeronautics from the Britain's RAF College in Cranwell in 1968 and also acquired a master's degree in military sciences.
He has also served in several positions in the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) until 1980, when he was appointed as the governor of Hail.