Saudi King Abdullah dies, succeeded by half-brother
Updated: 2015-01-23 09:31
Crown Prince Abdullah waves as he arrives to open a conference in Riyadh, in this Feburary 5, 2005 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king, the royal court in the world's top oil exporter said in a statement carried by state television.
King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir.
"His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning," said the statement.
Abdullah, thought to have been born in 1923, had ruled Saudi Arabia as king since 2006.
Abdullah played a guiding role in Saudi Arabia's support for Egypt's government after the military intervened in 2012, and drove his country's support for Syria's rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.
King Salman, thought to be 79, has been crown prince and defence minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.
By immediately appointing Muqrin as his heir, subject to the approval of a family Allegiance Council, Salman has moved to avert widespread speculation about the immediate path of the royal succession in the world's top oil exporter.