Saudi King Abdullah has announced that women will be given the right to vote and run in municipal elections for the first time in the country.
The king made the announcement in an annual speech on Sunday, adding however that the candidates would be chosen âaccording to Islamic principles,â AFP reported.
âWe have decided that women will participate in the Shura Council as members, starting the next term,â said the king.
The Shura Council is an all-male advisory assembly established in 1993. It offers opinions on general policies in Saudi Arabia
and debates economic and social development plans and agreements signed between the kingdom and other countries.
The king's announcement means that women will be able to take part in the 2015 municipal elections, as nominations for the next vote, which is due to take place on Thursday and which is the second in Saudi Arabia's history, have already been submitted.
King Abdullah stressed that âMuslim woman must not be marginalized in opinion or advice.â
More than 5,000 men will compete in the municipal elections on Thursday to fill half the seats in the kingdom's 285 municipal councils. The other half will be appointed by the government.
Saudi Arabia held its first-ever municipal elections in 2005.
In April, a group of Saudi women protested against the ban on women voting in elections at a voter registration office in the city of Jeddah.
Over the past months, Saudi activists in the Eastern Province have staged several anti-government protests, demanding reforms and immediate release of political prisoners.
Women in Saudi Arabia must have a written approval from a male guardian, which could be a father, husband, brother or son, to leave the country, work or even undergo certain medical operations.
Source: Press TV