Vote ban for Saudi women remains

11:05, March 29, 2011      

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Saudi Arabia's ban on women voting or running as candidates is to remain in place during the kingdom' s municipal elections slated for April 23, the electoral committee head said Monday.

"We are not ready for the participation of women in these municipal elections," Abdul-Rahman al-Dahmash was quoted by state- run SPA news agency as saying, renewing earlier promises that authorities would "allow (women's) participation in the next ballot."

The oil-rich country held its first municipal polls in 2005, when people elected half the members of 178 municipal councils.

In May 2009, the government extended the mandate of the councils by two years, postponing a second vote to 2011.

Analysts said the polls were seen as a concession from the government to avoid political conflicts.

A series of small-scale protests broke out in Saudi amid growing public dissatisfaction in the past month, and the government has promised reforms and more job opportunities.

Source: Xinhua

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