Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The advisers of the king of Saudi Arabia are a step towards women's suffrage

The Shura Council of Saudi Arabia, an advisory body, has said that he should allow women to vote in future local elections. Saudi authorities announced in March that half of the seats in the plenary sessions of the councils will be elected in the future, a radical step in a country ruled by an absolute monarchy that currently has no democratically elected government institutions.

However, excluded women candidates or voters. Local authorities argued that there were many logistical problems in organizing polling segregated by sex. On Monday, the Shura Council has issued a statement that says they have agreed "that the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs should take steps to include women's suffrage in municipal elections in accordance with Islamic Sharia." "This is a general recommendation," said Mohammed Almuhanna, spokesman for the Shura Council.

"It has nothing to do with the elections now, it is rather a recommendation for future elections," he added. Saudi Arabia has no political parties or national parliament and the Shura Council are appointed by the king. Although their decisions are not binding, it has become a forum for discussion, encouraged by King Abdullah calls for political reform.

Hundreds of women across the country have joined an online campaign called 'Baladi' ("My Country" in Arabic), protesting their exclusion from local elections. In April, dozens of women mentioned in the register of voters in Riyadh, the capital, in the port city of Jeddah and the eastern provinces to demand their right to vote.

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