New Saudi King Salman pledges consistency | News | DW | 23.01.2015
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New Saudi King Salman pledges consistency

New Saudi King Salman has made his first public speech as monarch, promising to continue the same policies as his predecessors. His half-brother Abdullah was buried on Friday in Riyadh.

Saudi King Salman spoke hours after former monarch Abdullah was buried in a simple ceremony on Friday, attended by leaders from the Gulf region. Abdullah died early on Friday, aged about 90.

Salman, thought to be aged around 79, quickly appointed younger men as his heirs. His youngest half-brother Muqrin, 69, was named Crown Prince, and nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, as Deputy Crown Prince.

In a televised address, Salman promised continuity in governance.

"We will continue to abide by the righteous policy adopted by Saudi Arabia since it was founded by King Abdulaziz and his sons who took over after him," Salman said.

Abdulaziz was Salman's father, who founded the kingdom in 1932.

"The Arab and Muslim nations today badly need unity and solidarity. We will continue in this country, which God has chosen to be the birthplace of his message, to take every step to unify Muslim ranks and defend our nation's causes," Salman said.

Salman is the last Saudi ruler born before the discovery of the country's vast commercial quantities of oil. Abdullah's death added to uncertainty in energy markets, with oil prices jumping in reaction to news of his passing.

The kingdom, the world's top oil exporter, which relies on hydrocarbons for 90 percent of its state revenues, is seeing that income being drastically reduced by plummeting oil prices in recent months. The government has projected a record $38.7 billion (34.4 billion euro) shortfall for 2015, although Saudi Arabia is broadly believed to be the main agent in increasing global supply and driving the prices down.

Salman's Sunni monarchy must deal with a range of issues, including the plunging price of oil, the rise of the Islamic State group in nearby Iraq and Syria and its threat to topple the Saudi ruling family, an intense rivalry with Shiite Iran and rocky relations with the United States. In neighboring Yemen, also, the Saudi-supported Sunni goverment also appears on the brink of collapse after the resignations of the cabinet and the president.

jr/msh (Reuters, dpa)