Saudi women to be appointed in parliament, run for municipal polls

Saudi women to be appointed in parliament, run for municipal polls

Saudi Arabian women will be appointed as members of the parliament, and be allowed to run for and vote in the municipal elections, King Abdullah said on Sunday, DPA reported.

"In Islamic history, women have had roles that cannot be marginalized," Abdullah told members of the parliament, known as the Shura Council.

"Women will be members of the Shura council from the next round, and starting the next polls women will be able to run for the municipal elections following the Islamic rules," he added.

The Shura council is the formal advisory body of the oil-rich kingdom. It has limited powers and cannot pass or enforce laws. All 150 members are appointed by the king. The current term ends in 2013.

Municipal elections are the only polls in Saudi Arabia.

However, women still do not have the right to vote or run as candidates in the current municipal polls, to be held on Thursday.

King Abdullah did not specify the rules that would be applied for women's participation in the two councils.

Saudi activists have been campaigning for years to pressure the king into giving women more rights in the conservative Gulf state.

Saudi Arabia remains the only predominantly Muslim country that has yet to allow women the right to vote. Saudi women are also not allowed to drive, and cannot travel unless they are accompanied by a male guardian or are over 45 years old.

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