Britain praises Saudi decision to give women the vote

25th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain on Sunday praised Saudi Arabia's decision to allow women to vote and run for municipal office, calling it a "significant step forward" for the Saudi people.

"I welcome the reports of a proposal for women in Saudi Arabia to be given the right to vote and run in future municipal elections," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

"This would be a significant step forward for the people of Saudi Arabia," he added. "The UK strongly supports moves to increase the political and economic participation of women across the Arab world.

"We look forward to examining the full details of the proposed changes and how they will work in practice," he concluded.

Saudi King Abdullah announced the move on Sunday in a historic first for the ultra-conservative country where women are subjected to many restrictions.

"Starting with the next term, women will have the right to run in municipal elections and to choose candidates, according to Islamic principles," he said in speech to the Shura Council carried live on state television.

Women's rights groups have fought a long battle to gain the right to vote in the Gulf kingdom, which applies a strict version of Sunni Islam and bans women from driving or travelling without the consent of a male guardian.

© 2011 AFP

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