Saudi municipal elections see withdrawal of 120 women candidates

The backing out represents a blow for Saudi women who are allowed to vote and stand in elections on for the first time

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At least 120 female candidates out of a total 1,019 running for Saudi Arabian municipal council elections have withdrawn their candidatures, according to the spokesman for the National Committee for Municipal Elections Jidai al-Qahtani who was quoted on Tuesday in Arabic daily al-Hayat.

He said the total number of candidates stood at 7,380, but a total of 384 candidates have withdrawn.

Fifty of the candidates who withdrew were from Riyadh. The last day for withdrawal in Riyadh was on Thursday 19 Nov. All remaining candidates are required to go through the fourth phase and campaign for their election.

“The final list of candidates will be announced next Sunday 29 Nov. Not all nominated candidates will qualify for the final list. The committee will check the profiles and records of the candidates to ensure that none of them have violated any rules and regulations,” said Al-Qahtani.

Candidates are permitted to withdraw from elections at any point.

Al-Qahtani stressed the transparency and fairness of the elections, saying members of election committees were not allowed to visit voting centers or to promote any specific candidate using banners or flyers. Employees of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs are also prohibited from being involved in the campaigns.

The final list of elected candidates will be drafted on Dec. 12 and announced on Dec. 13, announced al-Qahtani.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 28, 2015.

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