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Archive for Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ruler gives power to family to pick monarchs

October 21, 2006

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— Saudi Arabia's king gave new powers to his brothers and nephews in an overhaul of the way the kingdom chooses future monarchs, the state-run news agency reported Friday, in what appeared to be an attempt to defuse internal power struggles.

By royal decree, a new group called the "Allegiance Association" - composed of King Abdullah's brothers and some of his nephews - will vote by secret ballot to choose future kings and crown princes, the agency said.

Crown Prince Sultan, the king's 77-year-old brother, already is slated to take over upon the 81-year-old monarch's death. The new council's creation appeared to be an attempt to defuse rifts within the House of Saud over future kings and crown princes.

Membership in the council was only open to sons of Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, and some of his grandsons. King Abdullah is one of those sons.

The new body will meet in secret in the royal palace in the capital, Riyadh, the report said. The first meeting will not occur until after Sultan dies.

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