In brief: Turnout low for Saudi elections

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30, 2011

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia held its second nationwide vote ever on Thursday, a male-only election for powerless municipal councils.

The balloting comes just days after the king decreed that women will be able to participate for the first time in the next local elections in 2015.

Official turnout figures were not available for Thursday’s vote. But Saudi media and activists said it was a small slice of the 1.2 million registered voters, a possible reflection of the insignificance Saudis attach to the toothless local councils that operate in the shadow of provincial governments led by powerful members of the ruling Al-Saud family.

Some 5,000 people ran for the more than 1,000 seats on 285 councils across the kingdom. The voters elected half the members of the councils; the other half will be appointed by the government.

Egyptian groups announce boycott

Cairo – Dozens of Egyptian political parties and movements announced Thursday that they would boycott the first parliamentary elections scheduled since Hosni Mubarak’s government collapsed seven months ago.

Forty-three political parties, ranging from the conservative Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood to the liberal Ghad Party of onetime presidential candidate Ayman Nour, said they would join the boycott.

Calling themselves the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, the parties complained that a military council decree setting the parliamentary elections for Nov. 28 would benefit members of Mubarak’s disbanded National Democratic Party.

The parties said they would part in the elections only if the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled Egypt by decree since Mubarak resigned Feb. 11, banned members of Mubarak’s party from involvement in politics for 10 years, something Egyptian political groups have been calling for since Mubarak fell.


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