Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal delivered the keynote address at the National Council on US-Arab Relations’ 15th annual Arab-US Policymakers’ Conference in Washington today.
In his remarks, Prince Turki discussed Saudi Arabian constitutional evolution in light of the Allegiance Institution, which the Kingdom established recently in order to formalize the royal succession. The Institution will consist of a committee of princes that will vote on the appointment of future Saudi kings and crown princes.
The formation of the Allegiance Institution is significant because it is an amendment to Saudi Arabia’s Basic Law of Governance and because it illustrates the principles that have guided the Kingdom since its formation, Prince Turki said. In addition, it is an evolution of the traditional Arab role of consultation in determining succession that dates back to the Caliph Omar.
“It is clear and transparent, and it includes procedures in case of the incapacitation of the ruler and his successor. It also allows for the ruler’s choice of successor to be rejected by the Council and for the Council’s choice to be chosen, even if the ruler does not agree. Casting the ballot is an essential component of the election process,” Prince Turki said of the new law. “This, truly, is a remarkable reform of what has been the traditional way of deciding the succession.”
Prince Turki noted that Saudi Arabia’s constitutional evolution has emphasized the importance of consultation, including the establishment of the Consultative Council in 1924 and the establishment of the Basic Law in 1992.
“Saudi Arabia has been progressing towards its own form of representative institutions. We have not reached the end of that path, but we have embarked on it with steadfastness and determination,” Prince Turki said. “Most importantly, Saudi Arabia’s constitutional evolution is homegrown and consistent with the traditions of its people and the tenets of Islam.”
Prince Turki also took questions on a number of topics, including Saudi-US relations, Iraq, the Kingdom’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Middle East peace process, and reforms in the Kingdom.
Transcript of Prince Turki's addressTranslation of the Allegiance Institution Law