GENEVA: Saudi Minister for Interior and the heir to the Saudi throne, prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has died in Switzerland, al Arabiya television reported.
An official statement from the Saudi government read that he had passed away “outside the kingdom”, and did not specify where he had died.
The 78 year-old, who was a half brother of King Abdullah, had been plagued with diabetes, osteoporosis and even cancer. He had been seeking treatment outside the kingdom.
On June 3, 2012, his borther, Prince Ahmed told Al Watan that the crown prince was “well and in good health . . . and he will soon return” to resume charge.
Nayef was appointed as crown prince in October after the death of his elder brother and predecessor in the role, Crown Prince Sultan. His death means the 89-year-old King Abdullah must nominate a new heir for the second time in nine months.
As the interior minister, he chairs a Supreme Commitee on the Hajj, and heads the Ministerial Committee on Morality.
Nayef also heads the Saudi Committee for Al Quds intifada, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees.
He was also headed the Supreme Council on Information which oversees the media and regulates the internet in the Arab kingdom.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Nayef.
President and Prime Minister in their separate condolence messages eulogised services of the Saudi crown prince in strengthening relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Correction: An earlier version had stated that Prince Nayef was the custodian of the two holy mosques. This is incorrect. The error is regretted.