Saudi king to undergo operation
Jeddah, October 12, 2011
Saudi King Abdullah, who underwent surgery last year for back-related problems, will undergo an operation in the coming days, Saudi Arabia's state news agency reported.
"In continuation of the scheduled medical follow up of King Abdullah, the king will undergo an operation in the coming days in Riyadh," news agency SPA reported, citing a statement from the royal court.
Details of the planned operation were not disclosed.
King Abdullah was absent for three months late in 2010 while he underwent treatment for a herniated disc that caused blood to accumulate around his spine. He underwent surgery in New York and convalesced in Morocco, leaving his brother Crown Prince Sultan in charge.
Sultan, who is slightly younger than Abdullah, has also been treated for health issues in the past few years and was in the United States in the summer for medical tests.
Interior Minister Prince Nayef is poised to step in if anything happens to indispose both Abdullah and Sultan. The king appointed Nayef second deputy prime minister in 2009 -- a move that puts him in a strong position to one day take over.
So far only sons of the kingdom's founder, Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, have ascended to the throne, and eventually it will have to pass to a new generation. An "allegiance council" of sons and grandsons of the kingdom's founder was established to guide succession, but how it will work has not been made clear.
Last month, the king unveiled greater representation for women in Saudi Arabia, granting them the right to vote and stand in local elections.
After returning to the kingdom in February, King Abdullah unveiled $130 billion worth of job-creating projects for infrastructure, housing, security and other areas. - Reuters