Arab News reports on the latest news concerning the Saudi municipal elections to be held in April. The story states that the number of municipal councils is being increased from 179 to 285, a nearly 60% increase. Concordantly, the number of polling stations will also be increase.
But women will not be permitted to participate. ‘Participate’ is not more closely defined: does it mean that they can’t vote, can’t run as candidates, or both? I think we know the answer to that one.
The excuse given is, “We are not ready for the participation of women….’
Dude. It’s been nearly six years since the last election, at which women were not permitted to vote either. What have you been doing in the meantime? It’s not as though the issue never came up. In fact, back then it was promised that women would take part in the next elections. So what happened, what new, complicating issues arose? Why aren’t you ready? Really, it’s time to pull the thumb out and at least pretend you’re catching up with the rest of the world. Yes, women’s participation in elections did take time to develop in the West. That doesn’t excuse the obstructions that are happening now in the Kingdom. You’ve nearly a hundred years’ of other people’s experience in women’s suffrage, and close to 50 years’ of that includes both Arab and Muslim societies. What’s the problem here, if it’s not abject fear of women?
But it’s again promised that women will be allowed to participate in the next elections. With the exact promise so clearly broken, why should it be trusted this time around? And also again, how about refining that definition of ‘participate’?
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced Monday that it was not yet ready for women participating in next month’s municipal elections as voters or candidates. “We are not ready for the participation of women in these municipal elections,” Election Commissioner Abdul Rahman Al-Dahmash said.
Speaking to reporters in Riyadh, Al-Dahmash, however, promised that women would be allowed to participate in the next elections.
He cited a number of procedural reasons for the ban on women voting. “Participation of women in elections took place in most advance countries gradually,” he pointed out.
He said the municipal elections would take place on April 23 all over the Kingdom at the same time. A person is allowed to vote only once in favor of a candidate in his constituency, he said.
Al-Dahmash urged Saudis to elect qualified people to the councils in order to strengthen local bodies. “Municipal councils allow a large number of citizens to participate in the management of municipal services,” he said. The number of municipal councils in the country has been increased from 179 to 285 and polling stations from 631 to 855, he pointed out. The commission is now in the process of preparing a list of voters.