- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: COUNTRY PREPARES FOR ITS FIRST NATIONWIDE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
- Date: 10th February 2005
- Summary: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 8, 2005) (REUTERS) 1. WIDE DOWNTOWN RIYADH WITH KINGDOM TOWER IN BACKGROUND; POSTERS OF MUNICIPAL ELECTION CANDIDATES; POSTERS AND CAMPAIGNING TENTS ON THE STREETS OF RIYADH 1.14 RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 7, 2005) (REUTERS) 2. SLV SAUDI LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 1.19 3. LAS CEILING TILT DOWN MEMBERS ATTENDING A SESSION AT LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL; EMBLEM OF THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA; MEMBER OF THE SAUDI LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 2.02 4. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR FAHD AL MUBARAK, MEMBER OF LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, SAYING: "The mere fact that it is the first time, it is significant. Just for it to happen shows the significance of it. Now how effective and how broad, that is something that will evolve and increase over time and more in different regions in the Kingdom, so it is very important. It has drawn most of the intellectuals and most of them are middle ages so it is reasonable, it is low we would like to see more in Riyadh, but it is reasonable." 2.41 5. SEATED WITH REPORTER 2.44 RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (FEBRUARY 8, 2005) (REUTERS) 6. SLV EXTERIOR OF CAMPAIGN CENTRE; SLV PEOPLE ARRIVING AT CAMPAIGN CENTRE; MV THREE MEN SEATED AT CAMPAIGN CENTRE 3.05 7. SCU PRAYER BEADS; MV OLD MAN SEATED; MV PEOPLE SEATED 3.32 8. SLV SECURITY ON STREETS OF RIYADH; SLV SPECIAL FORCES CHECKING CAR; SCU FACE OF SPECIAL FORCES 4.02 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 25th February 2005 12:00
- Location: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Reuters ID: LVA9PEI4AVT6D37TTWNOMCPACAKZ
- Story Text: Saudi Arabia prepares for its first nationwide
Saudi Arabia will hold its first nationwide
elections this year in a vote for municipal councils seen
as the first concrete political reform in the absolute
The first round of elections will be held on February
10 in the capital, Riyadh. Other regions are scheduled to
vote in March and April.
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.
Half the council members are expected to be elected
while the rest will be appointed. Officials have not yet
decreed whether women, who are still forbidden to drive in
Saudi Arabia, will be allowed to vote or stand in the
Diplomats have welcomed the planned vote as a step
forward in Saudi Arabia's cautious reform programme but say
it is unclear whether candidates will have time to develop
any clear platform for the election campaign Legislative council
member Dr Fahd al Mubarak welcomed
the elections but would like to see more representation of
the people of Saudi Arabia.
"The mere fact that it is the first time, it is
significant. Just for it to happen shows the significance
of it. Now how effective and how broad - that is something
that will evolve and increase over time and more in
different regions in the Kingdom, so it is very important.
It has drawn most of the intellectuals and most of them are
middle ages so it is reasonable, it is low we would like to
see more in Riyadh, but it is reasonable", he said.
Big billboards with pictures of men in traditional
dress have been put up on main streets of the Kingdom's
Campaign tents are also scattered around Riyadh. These
are used by candidates to welcome supporters and talk about
their programme, while strong Arabic coffee and dates are
passed around as incense is burnt.
Saudi Arabia has been under the dynastic rule of the
house of Saud since its foundation in the 1930s, although
local elections were held in western Hejaz province until
Along with international calls, an increase in violence
from militants opposed to the monarchy over the last few
years has also increased pressure on the rulers of the
world's biggest oil exporter to introduce political reforms.
But Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden and home to Islam's holiest sites, says it
will not allow political change to be influenced by outside
It has also cracked down on some domestic advocates of
Three prominent activists are on trial, charged with
causing instability and circulating political petitions.
The second stage of polling will take place in the east
and south of the kingdom in March. The last stage will be
held in the rest of the country -- including the holy
cities of Mecca and Medina and the Red Sea port city of
Jeddah -- in April.
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