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New Saudi opposition group calls for crown prince's ousting

Last month, Prince Ahmad reportedly returned home from London [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2018

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A newly-formed group of Saudi dissidents have called for an influential prince to take over from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman due to his 'irresponsible and aggressive' policies.

A Saudi opposition group formed by dissidents have called for an influential prince to take over from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who they say has lost credibility due to his "irresponsible and aggressive" policies.

The group calling itself "The Bloc of Allies for Good Governance" made the demands in their first statement, Al-Jazeera reported on Tuesday.

The statement urged Riyadh to allow the brother of the Saudi King, Ahmad bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, to be installed as the heir to the throne for a transitional period of one year "until the people can decide the future of the state".

It said Prince Ahmad should take over from the crown prince because his "desire to save the state and because he has played no part in the violations of previous eras."

The statement also made scathing criticism of Prince Mohammed, labelling the powerful young royal as "unfit for rule" and accused him of driving the kingdom into a "historic crisis".

The group listed what is said were the crown prince's failed policies such as the imprisonment of reformers, the devastating war in Yemen, the blockade of Qatar and approachment with Israel.

The organisation described itself as a "wide section of Saudi society including members of the military and security forces".

Last month, Prince Ahmad reportedly returned home from London amid pressure on Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

He has been touted by some news outlets as a potential challenger for the crown prince position, although this has been discounted by Saudi analysts due to Prince Ahmad's junior position.

In September, the elderly prince drew attention when he stopped to speak to Yemeni and Bahraini protesters who were held an anti-war protest outside his London home.

Prince Ahmad was recorded on video telling the protesters not to hold the entire Saudi royal family responsible for the disastrous war in Yemen, but only King Salman and the crown prince.

The prince's comments prompted Riyadh to issue an explanation of the remarks via its official press agency to avert speculation about a rift in the ruling family.

Prince Ahmed does not carry much influence in the kingdom although his low-profile is said to make him popular with certain sections of Saudi society.

He was one of the so-called Sudairi Seven, a group of once influential brothers who were sons of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the third Saudi state.

Since King Salman took to the throne and elevated his son to crown prince, the Sudairi Seven have been mostly sidelined following a clampdown on potential opponents and centralisation of power by Mohammed bin Salman.

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