Araweelo News Network

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo by AFP)

Riyadh*ANN)-A Saudi-owned television news channel has retracted a message on Twitter that had said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would be appointed as the king during a planned ceremony.

Al-Arabiya state television, on its Twitter account, said on Wednesday that it would soon release or broadcast further details about the scheduled ceremony.

However, the channel deleted the tweet hours later.

The regime in Riyadh is apparently seeking to examine public reaction regarding a surprise shift in power.

In early September, the Arabic-language al-Manar daily reported that bin Salman had formed a team of aides to prepare the kingdom for celebrating his succession to power as the new king.

The paper quoted sources close to the royal family as saying that King Salman was due to step down over his health and name his son as the new king. The sources then noted that bin Salman had ordered the kingdom’s security officials to increase supervision of royal figures to prevent any coup.

However, the heir to the throne’s most ambitious move came late Saturday, when he fired senior ministers and had dozens of the country’s richest men detained, ostensibly on the grounds of fighting corruption. The arrests included his cousin and one of the world’s richest men, al-Waleed bin Talal.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday voiced serious concern over the recent arrests in Saudi Arabia.

Confusion also surrounds the whereabouts of Mohammed bin Salman’s predecessor as crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, who has not been seen publicly since June and is rumored to be under house arrest.

Analysts say the targeting of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing elite represents a shift from family rule to a more authoritarian style of governance based around one man.

Since replacing his cousin bin Nayef in June as first in line to succeed his father, the 32-year-old Salman has embarked on a campaign to consolidate power, taking on rivals within the royal family.

Since bin Salman’s elevation to the position of defense minister and deputy crown prince in 2015, and later to the position of crown prince, Riyadh has taken on more aggressive policies.