Saudi king upends royal succession and names son as first heir

Saudi king upends royal succession and names son as first heir
Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, removing the country's counter-terrorism chief from the royal line of succession.

In a series of royal decrees carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was first in line to the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as defence minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne.

Royal watchers had long suspected his quick rise to power might accelerate his inheriting of the throne.

The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015. He had previously been in charge of his father's royal court when Salman was the crown prince.

The Saudi monarch, who holds near absolute powers, quickly awarded his son expansive powers to the surprise of many within the royal family who are more senior and more experienced than Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.

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