Leader for life: Mohammed bin Salman says 'only death' can stop him ruling Saudi Arabia

Leader for life: Mohammed bin Salman says 'only death' can stop him ruling Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has told the US show 60 minutes that he wants to rule Saudi Arabia for a lifetime.
2 min read
19 March, 2018
Bin Salman said "only death" can stop him from ruling over Saudi Arabia. [Getty]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has wooed the West by promising a more open society, has said that "only death" can stop him from ruling over Saudi Arabia in an interview on the eve of his visit to the United States.

The 60 minutes report was the first US television interview with bin Salman since he came to power and praised the Saudi crown prince as implementing "revolutionary" reforms.

"Only God knows how long one will live, if one would live 50 years or not, but if things go their normal ways, then that's to be expected," bin Salman told CBS' Norah O'Donnell.

When asked if anything could stop him, bin Salman responded: "only death".

The interview comes just months after the young prince launched a shakedown of leading Saudi royals and business leaders, which helped consolidate his grip on power and retrieve billions in funds for Saudi coffers. 

Hundreds of suspected opponents were jailed at a luxury-hotel-turned-prison in Riyadh during an "anti-corruption purge" on influential Saudi figures that began in November. The majority were released after agreeing to hand over $100 billion.

The detainees - which included top Saudi officials and businessmen - allegedly suffered physical abuse and torture while in captivity, with reports of one death, a New York Times investigation revealed.

Human Rights Watch likened the mass arrests to "extortion" and said the alleged mistreatment was a "serious blow to Mohammad bin Salman's claims to be a modernising reformist."

The Saudi government denied accusations of physical abuse as "absolutely untrue".

"What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary" and legal, bin Salman told CBS, referring to the corruption purge.

Bin Salman will focus predominantly on business interests during his maiden voyage to the US in the capacity as Saudi Arabia's de facto leader.

His two-and-half week US tour - which begins on Tuesday - includes meetings with an array of prominent figures from the technology and film industries.