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Ironduke
14 Oct 03,, 00:16
Saudis announce first elections

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, has announced it will hold its first council elections, in a move seen as the kingdom's first real political reform.
The government decided to "widen the participation of citizens in running local affairs through elections", the state news agency SPA reported.

Half the members of future councils will be elected under the reform.

The desert kingdom has never had political elections at any level since its creation in 1932.

The council elections are to be held within a year, SPA said, quoting from a statement by the Council of Ministers.

"[This decision comes] to implement King Fahd's speech about widening popular participation and confirming the country's progress towards political and administrative reform," the statement added.

The announcement came as a conference on human rights - the first ever in Saudi Arabia - got under way in the capital, Riyadh.

Academics and human rights activists from around the world are attending the two-day event.

The BBC's Middle East analyst, Roger Hardy, reports from Riyadh that the conference, entitled "Human rights in peace and war", is being prominently reported in the country.

Among the issues on the agenda will be the rights of women and children.

Opening the conference, the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, referred to the millions of people around the world whose rights were threatened by war and terrorism.

He singled out the plight of the Palestinians, and our correspondent says his remarks indicate that the Saudi authorities want the conference to be broadly rather than narrowly focused.

Pressure

Our correspondent says the prospect of limited council elections may be too little for some in Saudi Arabia, who have been calling for full national elections.

Observers report that Saudi Arabia has been under mounting pressure to reform its institutions.

The issue has gained urgency since the wave of suicide bombings in Riyadh on 12 May which left 35 people dead, including the nine bombers.

Saudi citizens were also extensively involved in the 11 September attacks on America. US politicians and commentators have accused Saudi Arabia's mixture of autocratic rule and puritanical Wahabi Islam of providing a fertile breeding ground for fanaticism and violence.

Within the country, the attacks have spurred liberals and moderate Islamists to openly express their dismay at what they consider an expanding "culture of violence" promoted by religious radicals.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3188310.stm

Ray
14 Oct 03,, 19:44
For tyhe first time, I believe maybe Bush is not being rather brash pursuing his policy of trying to change the world. I really cannot believe that Saudis can allow this.

This shows that the common citizen is fed up to his gills with all this radicalism.

Great!

TopHatter
14 Oct 03,, 20:58
Agreed, I'd be ashamed to be a Saudi, especially after 9-11

Ironduke
14 Oct 03,, 21:12
Originally posted by Ray
For tyhe first time, I believe maybe Bush is not being rather brash pursuing his policy of trying to change the world. I really cannot believe that Saudis can allow this.

This shows that the common citizen is fed up to his gills with all this radicalism.

Great!
Do you think it is Bush's policy to "bring democracy to the Middle East" that is making this happen.

TopHatter
14 Oct 03,, 21:31
Yeah right. I don't think democracy will occur in the Middle East due to GW Bush. Or hell, maybe it maybe influenced it.

ZFBoxcar
14 Oct 03,, 23:28
Unless women and the children of immigrants are given the vote, this will be almost meaningless. All menial labor in KSA is done by immigrants (mainly Pakistani) while the state gives free...everything...to the male citizens. So they already have rights. Its not completely worthless though, depending on how moderate Saudi voters are. Before I go further, plz tell me if maybe Im mistaking this behavior for the smaller gulf states. I know they do this, but what Im wondering is if KSA does it too.

Leader
15 Oct 03,, 02:04
Originally posted by ironman420
Do you think it is Bush's policy to "bring democracy to the Middle East" that is making this happen.

Bush put the crack in the dam with Iraq. One by one these dictatorships are going to have to reform or by overthrown. You see it now in the two major powers left in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Granted this would have happened anyway, but Bush's policies in the region took 10 or 15 years of the lives of the Muslim dictatorships.

Ray
15 Oct 03,, 05:42
Ironman,

Well I can't think of any other reason than Bush's heavy handed policy that could make the recalcitrant Saudi Kings agree to democracy, even the modicum that is being allowed.

Correct or otherwise, there is a school of thought that the US targetted Iraq [and not North Korea which is more dangerous] because it has the second largest oilfields in the world and control of the same is strategically important, especially with Russia being in the neighbourhood and rather chummy with both Iraq and Iran. Therefore, with Saudi Kings lately getting a trifle 'independent' of US and not taking cognisable action against the terrorist they were spawning, it would not be extraordinary if the US turned her attenae thataway because of the wrold's largest oilfields there.

Of course this is a rather simplistic reasoning but then there is foundation.

As far as women and children, well the dawn has just broken!

Jay
15 Oct 03,, 06:25
i see corruption...in a very large scale :dontcare other than that these elections are just an eye wash! just to appease the moderate saudis so that they'll not swing to radical wahabism :ermm

Added later:
or the other way around, to convert all the moderates to radicals!! :puke

Julie
15 Oct 03,, 06:55
The Saudis had never before allowed FBI to question or investigate anything inside it's borders. Now elections?

These things began to happen after Saudi Nationals flew to Washington to take a look at that report that contained pages that were unreleased.

Did Bush get the goods on Saudi? Looks like the cowboy did to me.

TopHatter
15 Oct 03,, 16:56
I could be way off here Julie but are you referring to documents that linked the Saudi government to 9-11?
That's a scary thought.

Julie
16 Oct 03,, 03:03
No, you aren't way off. That is what I am referring to. Congress pressed for the publishing of the report, but there were pages that remained undisclosed.

I believe those pages contained the American undercover operatives names, as well as Saudi government officials that may have been involved.

ChrisF202
16 Oct 03,, 21:05
Originally posted by TopHatter
Agreed, I'd be ashamed to be a Saudi, especially after 9-11
Same here

TopHatter
16 Oct 03,, 21:08
Originally posted by Julie
No, you aren't way off. That is what I am referring to. Congress pressed for the publishing of the report, but there were pages that remained undisclosed.

I believe those pages contained the American undercover operatives names, as well as Saudi government officials that may have been involved.

Gad, talk about a smoking gun. I wonder if Bush put the hooks into them and demanded other concession?

Ray
17 Oct 03,, 03:28
Make Hay while the Sun Shines.