RIYADH Saudi Arabia appointed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as Interior Minister on Monday, marking a significant move towards a new generation of leaders from the kingdom's ruling family.
Prince Mohammed, a son of the late veteran interior minister Prince Nayef, who died in June, is best known as Saudi Arabia's long-time security chief and has garnered the praise of Western countries for his role in the campaign against al Qaeda.
The move lifts Prince Mohammed into a critical role for the ruling al-Saud family and one that has until now only been held by the current ruling generation.
The interior ministry employs more than half a million Saudi Arabians and runs the police, civil defense, domestic intelligence, prisons, the border services and the kingdom's sophisticated security forces.
King Abdullah, the late prince Nayef, Crown Prince Salman and Prince Ahmed are all sons of Saudi Arabia's founder King Abdulaziz who was known as Ibn Saud.
"I would assume he's from the second generation of princes who are more receptive to ideas of reform. But he is good at making everybody think he is in their camp. That's what makes a successful politician," Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi said.
"Prince Ahmed is relieved of his position as interior minister at his own request and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef is appointed," a royal decree carried on Saudi Press Agency said.
"He is perceived as progressive, efficient and result-oriented," said Saudi columnist Hossein Shobokshi.
(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Additional reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Michael Roddy)