23rd January, 2015
Saudi Arabia buried King Abdullah Friday as foreign leaders gathered in the capital for the funeral of the ruler of the world’s top oil exporter and the spiritual home of Islam.
Abdullah, a cautious reformer who led his kingdom through a turbulent decade in a region shaken by the Arab Spring uprisings and Islamic extremism, died early Friday aged about 90.
He was replaced by his half-brother Salman, who moved quickly to consolidate his hold on power and vowed to maintain a steady course for the conservative kingdom.
Salman joined Gulf rulers and leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a funeral service at Riyadh’s Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque.
Abdullah’s shrouded body was borne on a simple litter by members of the royal family wearing traditional red-and-white checked shemagh head gear.
The body was quickly moved to nearby al-Od public cemetery where it was buried.
Citizens were invited to pledge allegiance to Salman at the royal palace.
Another of the late monarch’s half-brothers, Moqren, was named crown prince.
In his first public statement as the new ruler, 79-year-old King Salman vowed to “remain, with God’s strength, attached to the straight path that this state has walked since its establishment”.
He called in televised remarks for “unity and solidarity” among Muslims and vowed to work in “the defence of the causes of our nation”.
Moving quickly to clear uncertainty over the transition to the next generation, Salman named the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as second in line to the throne.
He also appointed one of his own sons, Prince Mohammed, as defence minister.
Officials did not disclose the cause of Abdullah’s death, but the late king had been hospitalised in December suffering from pneumonia and had been breathing with the aid of a tube.