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Saudi denies that former crown prince is confined to palace

Image of Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef in Tunis, Tunisia on 5 April 2017 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Image of Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef in Tunis, Tunisia on 5 April 2017 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

A Saudi official today denied a New York Times report that Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef has been confined to his palace and barred from travelling after he was replaced by the king’s son as next in line to the throne.

Mohammed Bin Nayef, a veteran interior minister who was admired in Washington for quashing an Al-Qaeda insurgency in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006, was relieved of all his duties a week ago.

In his place as Crown Prince, King Salman appointed his son Mohammed Bin Salman who also serves as defence minister and leads an ambitious reform agenda to end Saudi Arabia’s over-reliance on oil.

Read: Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s prince of chaos

The New York Times, citing four current and former American officials and Saudis close to the royal family, said that Mohammed Bin Nayef has been “barred from leaving the kingdom and confined to his palace” in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

“It’s not true, 100 per cent,” the official told Reuters without giving any further details.

Saudi state media, eager to show the change was going smoothly, repeatedly broadcast footage of the young Mohammed Bin Salman kissing the hand of his older cousin, Mohammed Bin Nayef, as he offered congratulations.

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