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Saudi King Salman reshuffles cabinet in royal decrees

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (File photo)

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has reshuffled his cabinet by replacing the minister of the Hajj and Umrah, the head of the Supreme Administrative Court and the chairman of the General Aviation Authority.

In royal decrees carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), King Salman dismissed Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Saleh ben Taher Benten and appointed Issam bin Saad bin Saeed, who also serves as the minister of state, as the acting minister.

“Mohammed Saleh ben Taher Benten, Minister of Hajj and Umrah shall be relieved from his position,” SPA tweeted, without giving reasons behind the decision.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is a Saudi government department which is in charge of issues related to the Hajj pilgrimage in the kingdom. In recent years, the ministry has faced criticism over the handling of the annual event.

On September 24, 2015, a human crush occurred during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca, leaving thousands of Muslims dead.

Unofficial sources put the death toll at almost 7,000 people based on individual reports from the countries whose nationals had been among the victims of the incident.

Earlier that month, a massive construction crane operated by the Saudi Binladin Group conglomerate collapsed onto Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims.

In separate decrees on Friday, King Salman named Sheikh Ali bin Suleiman bin Ali al-Sa’awi as the new head of Supreme Administrative Court. He replaced Ibrahim bin Suleiman bin Abdullah al-Rasheed.

Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Duaij was also appointed as the new chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation after Abdul Hadi bin Ahmed bin Abdul Wahab al-Mansouri.

In addition, Mansouri was named as assistant minister of foreign affairs for executive affairs and Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Abdul Aziz al-Arifi as the assistant to the minister of transport.

Some analysts say that cabinet reshuffles by King Salman are meant to bring in officials more loyalist to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


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