Saudi Prince sees no need for women MPs


There are no political parties in Saudi Arabia but reform activists hope the advisory Shura Council — an all-male body appointed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz — will be transformed into an elected legislature one day.

“Appointing the members always ensures that the best are selected,” Interior Minister Prince Nayef said in comments carried by Al Jazirah daily.

“If it was to happen through elections, the members would not have had been this competent.”

Asked if that could include women, he said: “I don’t see the need for that.”

Diplomats say the inner circle of powerful Saudi royals are divided over political reforms. Prince Nayef is seen as a hawk opposed to changes.

Saudi men were allowed to vote for some seats on municipal councils in 2005.

The king has promoted cautious reforms as part of an effort to combat radicalism that was launched after the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001.

The attacks, in which 15 of the 19 perpetrators were from Saudi Arabia, focused international attention on the country which is considered a regional powerhouse in the middle east.


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