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Saudi Arabia appoints new ministers for economy and national guard

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Saudi Arabia appoints new ministers for economy and national guard

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By Reem Shamseddine and Katie Paul RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has appointed new ministers for two key positions involving internal security and the economy, state television reported on Saturday, citing a royal decree. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was relieved of his post as minister of the National Guard and replaced by Khaled bin Ayyaf, while Economy Minister Adel Fakieh was replaced by his deputy Mohammed al-Tuwaijri. The move consolidates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s control of the kingdom’s three armed security institutions, which have long been headed by separate branches of the royal family. The royal decree also announced the creation of a new anti-corruption committee chaired by Prince Mohammed. Within hours of its announcement, state-linked al-Arabiya television reported that the committee had detained 10 princes and tens of former ministers, but it did not name them. The decree did not say what would become of existing anti-corruption body Nazaha, set up in 2011 amid efforts to bolster confidence in the government at a time when popular unrest was sweeping the Arab world.

CONSOLIDATION Prince Miteb, the preferred son of the late King Abdullah, was once thought to be a leading contender for the throne before the unexpected rise of Prince Mohammed two years ago. He had inherited control of the national guard, an elite internal security force built out of traditional tribal units, from his father, who ran it for five decades. Prince Miteb was the last remaining member of Abdullah’s branch of the family to hold a position in the upper echelons of the Saudi power structure. Adel Fakieh has served as the point man for the kingdom’s wide-ranging economic reforms since his appointment as economy and planning minister in 2015. A former food executive with a reputation for pushing through politically sensitive reforms, he had previously served as labour minister, health minister and mayor of Jeddah. Fakieh faced down fierce opposition from the business community as labour minister when he established quotas for foreign workers to boost jobs for Saudis. Under Prince Mohammed, Fakieh led the development of a national transformation plan and privatisation drive launched last year to end the kingdom’s vulnerability to an unpredictable oil market. His replacement comes as the kingdom makes adjustments to that plan, a process dubbed NTP 2.0. The royal decree did not say whether Fakieh would hold any other government position. Former ministers often serve in advisory roles after leaving their posts. Tuwaijri is a former Saudi air force pilot and former chief executive of HSBC’s Middle East operations who has led the economy ministry’s programme to privatise some $200 billion of government assets. (Reporting by Katie Paul, Reem Shamseddine and Mostafa Hashem; Editing by Andrew Roche and Hugh Lawson)
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