Saudi royal calls for regime change in Riyadh

In an unprecedented move – one of the grandsons of the state’s founder – Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, has called for the removal of the kingdom’s ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Citing unrest among the royal family – plummeting oil prices and criticism of Saudi’s management of Makkah days after a stampede during Hajj claimed 1,100 lives, the prince who cannot be named owing to security reasons said there was a need for a change in leadership.

“The king is not in a stable condition and in reality the son of the king (Mohammed bin Salman) is ruling the kingdom,” the prince said, while speaking to the Guardian. He wrote two letters earlier this month calling for the king to be removed.

“So four or possibly five of my uncles will meet soon to discuss the letters. They are making a plan with a lot of nephews and that will open the door. A lot of the second generation is very anxious.”

Hajj stampede death toll climbs to 1,100 – The prince explained a double tragedy in Makkah – the collapse of a crane that killed more than 100 – followed by a stampede last week that killed 1,100 – has raised questions not just about social issues, but also about royal stewardship of the holiest site in Islam. “The public are also pushing this very hard, all kinds of people, tribal leaders,” the prince added.

“They say you have to do this or the country will go to disaster.” The government of Saudi Arabia has constantly brushed aside such criticism claiming the holy sites are being managed perfectly and the government at all times ensures that the sites are safely accessible for all pilgrims.

Further, while authorities deny that senior members of the government may be responsible for the incidents, locals have refused to accept such claims as made clear on social media and otherwise. “The people inside (the kingdom) know what’s going on but they can’t say. The problem is the corruption in using the resources of the country for building things in the right form,” an activist residing in Makkah said on the condition of anonymity.

“Unfortunately the government points the finger against the lower levels, saying for example: ‘Where are the ambulances? Where are the healthcare workers?’ They try to escape the real reason of such disaster,” he added.

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