RIYADH, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday the long-awaited formation of local councils in the kingdom, ending a 10-month hiatus after Saudi men voted for the partly elected bodies.
The elections, which ran from February to April, gave Saudis their first taste of nationwide polls. But the delay in choosing members to fill the 50 percent of appointed seats on councils frustrated many of the election victors.
"I am pleased to announce the formation of municipal councils has been completed," Municipalities Minister Prince Mutib bin Abdul-Aziz said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Regulations published by the agency suggested the councils will have largely advisory roles on local affairs, and will be overseen by Prince Mutib”s ministry.
The elections this year were the first nationwide poll in the country. Only Saudi men over the age of 21 were allowed to vote, and turnout was patchy apart from a few areas such as the Shiaa districts in the east of the country.
Candidates supported by Muslim scholars triumphed in the main cities of Riyadh and Jeddah.