By Associated Press - Wednesday, March 16, 2022

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian monarch underwent medical tests and had the battery of his pacemaker changed, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday.

King Salman will rest for several days following the procedure and “successful medical tests,” the news agency said. Government-produced images showed the king leaving the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the capital, Riyadh, hunched forward and using a cane, but otherwise walking unassisted.

King Salman was accompanied by an entourage that included his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as he left the hospital.

The monarch’s health is closely watched because he holds absolute power in the kingdom. King Salman has appointed his 36-year-old son, Prince Mohammed, as his successor, though he‘s also already empowered him to lead day-to-day affairs.

The crown prince’s assertive and brazen style of leadership, as well as his consolidation of power and sidelining of potential rivals, have been controversial. He‘s denied any involvement in the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, contradicting Western intelligence assessments.

In July 2020, the king was admitted to a hospital in Saudi Arabia for medical tests due to inflammation of the gallbladder. He spent 10 days in the hospital, during which the gall bladder was removed.

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