International desks – The Saudi authorities have detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of former ministers apparently over graft allegations, media reports said on Sunday.
The detentions came hours after the new committee of Saudi anti-corruption body, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was formed by royal decree.
Those detained were not named, according to a BBC report.
Saudi Gazette reported that King Salman issued a royal order on Saturday sacking Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah as the Minister of National Guard. He has been replaced by Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al-Muqren.
In yet another royal order, the King relieved Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakieh of his post. He has been replaced by Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri as Minister of Economy and Planning, according to the newspaper.
King Salman, in his capacity as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of all Armed Forces (Military Units), terminated the services of Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan as the Commander of the Naval Forces.
Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili has been promoted to the rank of admiral and appointed as Commander of the Naval Forces.
BBC reported Prince Mohammed is moving to consolidate his growing power while spearheading a reform programme.
It is not clear what those detained are suspected of. However, Saudi broadcaster Al-Arabiya said fresh investigations had been launched into the 2009 Jeddah floods and the outbreak of the Mers virus which emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
The new anti-corruption committee has the power to issue arrest warrants and travel bans, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency reported.
No official explanation was given for their removal.
Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was once seen as a contender for the throne and was the last member of Abdullah’s branch of the family at the highest echelons of Saudi government.
Prince Mohammed, who already serves as defence minister, now has nominal control over all the country’s security forces. He recently said the return of “moderate Islam” was key to his plans to modernise Saudi Arabia.
Addressing an economic conference in Riyadh, he vowed to “eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon”.
Last year, Prince Mohammed unveiled a wide-ranging plan to bring social and economic change to the oil-dependent kingdom in the desert.