Saudi king merges new heir's administration with royal court

Handout picture by the Saudi Press Agency on April 29, 2015 at a royal palace in Riyadh shows Saudi well-wishers greeting the new appointed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abduaziz (C-R) and new Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP Photo/)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's ageing King Salman late Thursday merged the royal court with that of his new heir, further streamlining administration a day after a shake-up in the line of succession.

Based on a proposal from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was appointed on Wednesday, Salman, 79, issued an order "joining the crown prince's court with the royal court," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Mohammed bin Nayef, the powerful 55-year-old interior minister, replaced Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud, 69, the last son of the kingdom's founder Abdul Aziz bin Saud in line for the throne.

It was the first time a Saudi crown prince has been relieved of duty.

As part of a wide-ranging government reorganisation and cabinet shuffle, Salman also named one of his sons, Mohammed bin Salman, to be deputy crown prince -- ensuring power will pass to a new generation after his death.

Mohammed, who is in his early 30s, remains as defence minister.

The appointments further solidify the hold on power of Salman's Sudairi branch of the royal family, whose influence had waned under King Abdullah who died on January 23 aged about 90.