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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

King Fahd Passes Away

JEDDAH, 2 August 2005 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd, statesman and peacemaker, passed away yesterday following a prolonged illness, the Royal Court announced. Crown Prince Abdullah succeeded him as the new king of Saudi Arabia.
“With deep sorrow and sadness, the Royal Court in the name of His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah and all family members and on behalf of the entire nation announces the death of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd following an illness,” an official statement said.
Prince Sultan has been named the new crown prince.
“Members of the royal family have pledged allegiance to Crown Prince Abdullah as king of the country... and King Abdullah chose Prince Sultan as crown prince... and the family members pledged allegiance to his excellency,” the Royal Court said.
Funeral prayer for the late king will be held at Imam Turki ibn Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh today after Asr prayers, the announcement said, adding that citizens would start pledging their allegiance to King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan at the Government Palace in Riyadh tomorrow (Wednesday).
During the succession process, the new king receives pledges of support from tribal leaders, ordinary Saudis, princes, ministers, members of the Shoura Council and leading religious figures.
To avoid traveling to Riyadh, regional governors and other administrative chiefs have been asked to accept condolences as well as pledges of allegiance from citizens in their areas.
King Abdullah said all Cabinet ministers will retain their posts. “All the members of the current Council of Ministers will be maintained in their positions, under our leadership,” said a decree issued by the new king. The royal decree said Prince Sultan, who was named deputy premier, would remain defense minister.
In Washington, the White House said President George W. Bush had offered his condolences to King Abdullah. A US State Department official said King Fahd’s death would not affect bilateral ties. The official said Washington had very good relations with King Abdullah. “Given the late king’s prolonged illness, Abdullah had been running policy and we are used to working with him,” the official told reporters.
King Fahd, who ruled for 23 years, guided Saudi Arabia through the most turbulent period in its history, which saw two Gulf wars. King Fahd leaves behind an economy experiencing its biggest growth in two decades, thanks to a spectacular surge in oil prices.
Several countries announced varying periods of mourning and flew flags at half-mast. An Arab League official said an Arab summit in Egypt, set for Wednesday, would be deferred for up to a week. In Saudi Arabia, recitations of the Qur’an echoed from mosques, radios and television sets but shops and businesses remained open.
King Abdullah, the fifth son of Saudi Arabia’s founder King Abdul Aziz to ascend the throne, is a cautious reformer who has overseen modest economic and political liberalization. He has been successful in leading a major campaign against Al-Qaeda militants blamed for a series of terrorist bombings and shootings across the country.
King Fahd ascended the throne in June 1982, at the height of Saudi Arabia’s economic boom and his reign saw the country making tremendous progress in political, economic, social, educational and other fields.
In 1992 Fahd introduced a written Basic Law of Government, encapsulating existing customs and practices. It explained the succession process, the role and conduct of the Cabinet and the appointment of the Shoura Council. The introduction of Shoura and partial elections to the municipal councils were the late king’s major political achievements.
The establishment of the National Society for Human Rights, the Supreme Economic Council, the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals, the Supreme Commission for Tourism and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority as well as the enacting of the new foreign investment and taxation laws and restructuring of ministries were other reforms introduced by the king.
King Fahd was considered a Middle East peacemaker. “He engaged himself for dialogue between the Islamic world and the West with intelligence, far-sightedness and great personal commitment,” German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a telegram to King Abdullah. “His balanced policies and mediation in the Middle East brought him and Saudi Arabia respect and recognition around the world,” he added.
Perhaps King Fahd’s greatest achievement was bringing Lebanese MPs to the Saudi resort of Taif in 1989 to hammer out an accord to end 15 years of civil war. In Beirut, the government ordered three days of mourning and the closure of public offices to “honor the memory of a great man who always gave support to Lebanon.”
Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members sought to reassure jittery oil markets, saying there was likely to be no change in country’s policy following the death of Fahd. “I cannot imagine that there will be any particular change” in the Kingdom’s internal or external policies, said Prince Turki Al-Faisal, who has been named the new Saudi ambassador to the United States. Asked if this extended to oil policy, he replied: “Absolutely”.
World oil prices jumped above $61 a barrel in London after the announcement of Fahd’s death, although traders said there was no fear of supply disruptions. A senior Saudi oil official said the Kingdom would keep output at levels required to ensure market stability. “Saudi Arabia will not change its oil policy and will work on providing the oil supplies needed by world markets and is keen on avoiding trouble,” said the official.
OPEC President and Kuwaiti Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmed Fahd Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah said he expected the smooth succession in the Kingdom to restore calm to world oil markets after the initial rise in prices.
dikutip dari: Arabnews.com


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