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World

Saudi Arabia: First women councillors elected

December 13, 2015 4:57 pm

At least four women were elected, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. Other news agencies put the number between nine and 17.

Women were elected in Mecca, Jawf and Tabuk, SPA said.

The vote is being seen as a landmark in the conservative kingdom. However, the councils have limited powers.

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Women also won in several other regions in the country, including Jeddah and Qatif, other reports suggested.

Saudi women still face many curbs in public life, including driving. A total of 978 women registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men.

Officials said about 130,000 women had registered to vote in Saturday’s poll, compared with 1.35 million men.

The disparity was attributed by female voters to bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of transport, the AFP news agency says.

Female candidates were also not allowed to address male voters directly during campaigning. Turnout was high, state media reported.

Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi was named as Saudi Arabia’s first elected female politician, after winning a seat on the council in Madrakah in Mecca province.

She was running against seven men and two women, the electoral authorities said.

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