RIYADH - A maverick half-brother of the late King Fahd whose reformist views have clashed with conservative Saudi policies on Tuesday hailed the smooth transition of power in the oil-rich country, saying it confounded claims of instability.
"The smoothness, calmness and flexibility which marked the transition of power to King Abdullah and his Crown Prince Sultan are doubtless clear indicators of the stability of the kingdom," Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz said in a statement.
"What I saw for myself... as (ruling) family members pledged allegiance to King Abdullah, confirms that things went in a cordial and easy way," he said.
This also "refutes exaggerated rumors" in some media which "propagated unsound expectations" about the kingdom, Talal said.
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, who as crown prince was Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler since Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, was endorsed by the Al-Saud ruling family as new monarch after Fahd's death on Monday.
Family members also pledged allegiance to Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who was chosen as the new crown prince and deputy prime minister.
But the post of second deputy prime minister - occupied since its creation in 1982 by Prince Sultan in acknowledgement of his position as second in line to the throne back then - has so far been left vacant.
Prince Talal's daughter, Princess Sarah, said on Monday that her father should not be ignored in any discussion concerning the line to the throne.
Talal, who served in the past as a finance minister, has been largely marginalised by stronger figures within the royal family and currently does not hold any official position inside Saudi Arabia.
The prince said Saudis looked forward to Abdullah "completing the steps toward economic, political and social reform begun during King Fahd's reign."