Civic poll process in Makkah begins early because of Haj
Last updated: Tuesday, July 07, 2015 12:40 AM
Saudi Gazette report
MAKKAH – In view of the peak Haj season, the Supreme Committee for Municipal Elections has decided to start the procedures for municipal elections in Makkah one week ahead of schedule.
According to the new schedule, announced by the local committee for the municipal elections in Makkah, the election process will begin on Aug. 16 (Dhul Qada 1) in Makkah.
In all ether parts of the Kingdom, the process will begin on Aug. 22 (Dhul Qada 7) as per the earlier schedule.
Osama Al-Bar, mayor of Makkah and head of the local municipal elections committee, said the process of voter registration and updating voters’ data in Makkah will start on Aug. 16 and will continue up to Sept. 8. Candidates can start registration from Aug. 23 until Sep. 10.
Candidates in other municipalities can do so from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17. This year’s Haj begins on Sept. 18, according to Umm Al-Qura calendar.
However, election will be held in Makkah along with other municipalities on Dec. 12 (Rabiul Awwal 1), the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Bar said all the subordinate committees are racing against time to complete preparations for voter registration and other procedures in the wake of the rescheduling of the election process.
“The technical subcommittee has completed all preparations well in advance and these included linking the local election committee’s network with that of the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs and registration of all details about the voters in the database updated by the ministry and preparing geographical features of the areas of constituencies and polling centers.”
Al-Bar said the media and awareness subcommittee has started installing boards of voter registration centers in Makkah, Al-Jamoom, Madraka and Osfan.
There will be 30 centers for men and 17 centers for women. The committee also intensified media and awareness campaign among the voters, urging them to take part in the election process and the campaign is concentrated mainly on major commercial centers and public places in Makkkah municipal areas.
The mayor said that the number of constituencies for the third municipal elections have increased from eight to 10.
“There are several reforms introduced for the new municipal elections, the most important of which was the women’s participation,” he said.
Saudi women will participate for the first time as voters and candidates since the adoption of the new system for municipal councils, following the decision of late King Abdullah to enhance female participation in municipal elections.
“The Shariah rules will be applied with regard to polling centers, election campaign and such other matters pertaining to women voters and candidates,” he said.
Al-Bar said the number of elected members of the municipal councils has been raised to two-third instead of half of the seats in the previous elections.
The age of voters lowered to 18 from 21, he said,” adding that this will help enable a large number of the young voters to cast their franchise.
The new municipal council regulations confirm that men and women have equal rights. The candidates must be at least 25 years old and completed the minimum high school education.
The government has set up 1,263 polling centers in 284 municipalities across the Kingdom for the Dec. 12 elections.
The country’s third municipal elections will see 511 new centers set up, a 68 percent increase from the last elections when there were 752. Of the new centers, 424 are for women.