Saudi king appoints Nayef governor

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has appointed the head of the Crown Prince Court, Saud bin Nayef, the governor of the oil-producing Eastern Province.

“Prince Mohamad bin Fahad bin Abdulaziz is relieved of his duties as the governor of Eastern Province, upon his request, and Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz… is appointed governor of the province,” a statement by the Saudi Royal court said on Monday.

Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, as well as an end to widespread discrimination.

However, the demonstrations turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially after November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.

Reports say nearly a dozen people were killed in the province in 2012.

Prince Mohamad bin Fahad was relieved of his post following demands by protesters for his removal.

The newly appointed Prince Saud is the elder brother of Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. After serving as the Saudi ambassador to Spain, Prince Saud was recalled to Riyadh to serve at the court of his late father, Crown Prince Nayef, who was also interior minister.

Activists say they believe the new appointment will not have a serious impact on the policies in Eastern Province.

“It is a significant change. But to my knowledge in the upper echelons of the state, the view of Qatif is very much influenced by security issues,” said Tawfiq Al Seif, a community leader in Saudi Arabia.