- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: SAUDI MEN VOTE IN LANDMARK MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
- Date: 9th February 2005
- Summary: (BN07) RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 10, 2005) (REUTERS) 1. SLV EXTERIOR POLLING CENTRE 0.02 2. SV SIGN READING "POLLING CENTRE" 0.06 3. SLV SAUDIS ENTERING POLLING CENTRE 0.16 4. SV/CU MAN CHECKING HIS NAME AND IDENTIFICATION (3 SHOTS) 0.45 5. SLV/SV/CU MEN CASTING VOTES (3 SHOTS) 1.10 6. SV/CU MAYOR OF RIYADH ADBUL AZIZ AL MOQRIN CASTING HIS VOTE (3 SHOTS) 1.28 7. MCU MAYOR OF RIYADH ADBUL AZIZ AL MOQRIN SPEAKING (ARABIC) 2.07 8. MCU CAMERAMEN 2.10 9. MCU (English) MAYOR OF RIYADH ABDUL AZIZ AL MOQRIN OFFICIAL SAYING: "I am very glad and satisfied, I am satisfied with the process and I am happy as a citizen that Riyadh is the first city to cast the votes." 2.37 10. CU CAMERAMEN 2.40 11. SV/CU OF PEOPLE VOTING (3 SHOTS) 2.57 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 24th February 2005 12:00
- Location: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Reuters ID: LVAC22D3Z2TPTU344RSFMOYYSMYY
- Story Text: Saudi men vote in landmark municipal elections.
Saudi men started voting in municipal elections in
the capital Riyadh on Thursday (February 10, 2005), the first
stage in an unprecedented nationwide vote in the absolute
monarchy which is inching toward reform.
Polling centres opened at 8 am (0500GMT).
The conservative Gulf kingdom said nearly a year ago it
would hold the elections after pressure from the United
States and domestic reformers for greater political
participation and freedom of expression
The municipal elections are the first of their kind in
Saudi Arabia which have been described as a small step in
Saudi Arabia's measured response to call for reforms, but
election fever is gripping Riyadh
Critics say the elections are largely a cosmetic
response to reform demands. But diplomats say the vote will
at least create a mechanism for Saudis to channel concerns
Voters are deciding just half the members of municipal
councils whose powers are likely to be limited. The other
council members will be appointed.
Women cannot vote and few men registered in the Riyadh
area -- just 149,000 in a city of over four million people.
One official said everything had gone smoothly and
according to plan.
"As an official I am very happy that we have gone
through all the stages of the election very smoothly from
the process of registration , and the process of
campaigning all has been successful. now we are in the last
stage , the stage of voting . I hope that we go through this smoothly
as well," said the official.
The polls are part of a cautious programme of reform
introduced by de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah, who has
faced growing calls for change from domestic activists and
Saudi Arabia's main ally, the United States.
The Mayor of Riyadh Abdul Aziz al Moqrin said he was
happy with the process.
"I am very glad and satisfied, i am satisfied with the
process and I am happy as a citizen that Riyadh is the
first city to cast the votes," al Moqrin said.
The Riyadh vote is the first of a three-part election
for municipal councils across the country. Voting will take
place in the eastern and southern provinces next month, and
in western and northern Saudi Arabia in April.
More than 1,800 candidates are competing for around 200
seats in the Riyadh area and some have spent millions of
dollars on campaigns. They range from businessmen, tribal
figures, security chiefs, to academics and officials whose
enthusiasm has contrasted sharply with widespread voter
Posters of rival candidates have sprung up across
Riyadh, a city so conservative that even pictures of the
ruling family are rarely displayed on the streets.
Newspapers have been filled with campaign pledges and
manifestos, many of them playing on a sense of injustice
over wealth distribution in the oil-rich monarchy by
promising to end corruption, at least at the level of
Bedouin tents appeared on empty plots of land
throughout the capital, where candidates invited supporters
for nightly discussions and dinners of camel meat and rice.
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