Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, June 2011
Municipal Elections in Saudi Arabia in September, 12,000 Candidates Registered
About 12,000 candidates in fray for civic elections
By ARAB NEWS
Published: Jun 3, 2011 23:18 Updated: Jun 3, 2011 23:20
Balloting centers all over the Kingdom closed at 2 p.m. Thursday after registering close to 12,000 candidates contesting the municipal elections in September.
The process of registering candidates from the lists of voters began on May 28 and continued for six days.
According to the organizing committee, the lists of voters and candidates will be published, each in the center in which they registered, for scrutiny or objections. Candidates have been given a week starting June 25 to withdraw their candidacy if they so wished. The final lists of voters will be published in all voting centers on July 13 while the final lists of candidates will be published on Sept. 17 and will remain there for 10 days.
The candidates, all of them men because women are not allowed to vote or contest elections, are in the fray for 258 municipal councils all over the Kingdom with 1,632 seats. The councils increased by 59 while the seats went up by 400 since the first municipal elections were held about six years ago. Over that time, many rural districts have attained municipal status.
According to local press reports Friday, about 90 percent of the members of the current councils are not contesting the elections this time. They said they wanted to give the opportunity for new faces and new blood.
In Riyadh and its suburbs, 963 candidates have registered in 54 voting centers. The candidates are less by half compared to those in the first elections in 2005 when 1825 contenders ran for the elections.
According to the elections committee, there are 149 candidates in Makkah. Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar said there were 106 in Makkah and 43 in its three suburbs of Jammoum, Mudrikah and Asfan. In the first elections, Makkah had 373 candidates.
The Eastern Province has 351 candidates and 190,850 voters in the first and second municipal elections.
The committee said Khaibar has 49 candidates, Al-Kharj 41 and Raniyah 23.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the Jeddah Municipal Council Fouad bin Ahmad Saleem said he did not expect strong municipal councils after the elections if they were not independent in their decisions.
In an interview with Al-Madinah daily, he said the councils would remain weak if the members did not dedicate all their time for them and if the municipalities were not quick in responding to their demands. “In order to have strong municipal councils, we have to expand their concerns and authorities to include all services,” he said.
Saleem welcomed the participation of women as voters and candidates in the municipal elections but denied that the Jeddah Council had invited women to its meeting last Thursday, which was the first with the residents of the city. “We were surprised to see them coming to our meeting. We gave them chairs and asked them to sit away from the meeting’s table so as not to stir a reaction from the members,” he said.
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