Senior Saudi royal calls for coup to replace King Salman

An unnamed Saudi prince has called for a change at the top of the country's absolute monarchy

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The Independent Online

A senior member of the Saudi royal family has called for a coup to replace King Salman as the country's leader, in an unprecedented call for a change to the absolute monarchy that governs the Gulf state.

An unnamed Saudi prince, one of the hundreds of grandsons of the nation's founder, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, called for the King to be removed in two letters written earlier this month, which have been posted online and read millions of times by the country's citizens.

The prince also told the Guardian that his feelings are shared by other members of the royal family, who are becoming more and more opposed to the management of the country under King Salman.

Speaking to the paper, he said: "The king is not in a stable condition and in reality the son of the king [Prince Mohammed bin Salman] is ruling the kingdom."

The prince reportedly said that a number of his uncles would meet soon to discuss plans to replace the king.

He added that the public and many senior tribal leaders have similar views, in light of Saudi Arabia's recent troubles, both at home and abroad.

Two disasters have struck Mecca recently - the collapse of a crane at the Grand Mosque, and a later stampede in the holy city

Serious crushes and stampedes are a constant issue on the Hajj pilgrimage, during which millions of Muslims flock to Mecca from around the world. However, with these two disasters killing around 1,000 people within the space of a month, the public mood is shifting against the royals who manage the city.

Senior royals are also reportedly concerned about the economic situation in the country. The tumbling price of oil has meant that Saudi Arabia's oil-dependent economy is faltering, and budget deficits look set to rise.

And the country's recent military intervention in Yemen, which has been criticised as poorly-planned.

Internal struggles and rivalries between Saudi Arabia's many royals are nothing new, but outright coups are fairly uncommon.

"The king is not in a stable condition."

Unnamed Saudi prince

The last occurred in 1964, when King Saud was forced to hand power to King Faisal, after Faisal, having taken control of the National Guard, threatened a military coup.

Faisal himself was assassinated by his nephew 11 years later. The nephew, Prince Faisal, was beheaded three months later, in front of a crowd of thousands in Riyadh.

As Saudi Arabia's economy and government enter further troubles, the possibility of regime change comes closer.