2003 Press Release

Saudi Arabia to hold elections
Saudi Cabinet approves new measures to streamline local government, including election of municipal councils

[Washington, DC] -- As part of a progressive reform agenda in Saudi Arabia, the cabinet today approved plans to streamline local and municipal governments, including the establishment of Municipal Councils with elected members.  Half the members of the councils will be elected and half appointed. A committee has been tasked with recommending procedures and mechanisms for implementing this decision. These recommendations are to be submitted within one year.

Early this year, HRH Crown Prince Abdullah announced a 'Charter To Improve the Arab Position', which called for expanding economic opportunities and increasing political participation for all people in the Arab world.  Since that time, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a path to privatize industry, modernize legal systems, update its educational curriculums, gain entry to the World Trade Organization, and establish other building blocks for a modern nation.

Today’s announcement is an important part of the Kingdom’s ongoing reform agenda and follows King Fahd’s address to the Consultative Council on May 17 where he said: “I would like to confirm that we will continue on the path of political and economic reform. We will work to improve our system of government and the performance of the public sector and broaden popular participation in the political process.”

After this address, Crown Prince Abdullah directed a Ministerial Committee headed by Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, to review this matter and suggest mechanisms to implement King Fahd’s vision.  The committee completed its deliberations and forwarded its recommendations to the Crown Prince, who endorsed them and submitted them to the Cabinet for approval. The Cabinet approved them today.

According to HRH Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United States: “This is an important step in the Kingdom’s history.  It also shows the wisdom and foresightedness of its leadership.”