Government Intensifies Efforts To Constitute Municipal Councils

RIYADH, 11 August 2005 — The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA) has increased efforts to constitute all 178 municipal councils and make them functional across the Kingdom as early as possible. The MOMRA has also created a separate department within the ministry which will work to provide a broad framework within which the municipal councils will function, said Dr. Ibrahim ibn Hamad Al-Quayid, an elected member of the Riyadh Municipal Council.

“The new department at MOMRA, headed by Abdullah Al-Subayyal, has been entrusted with the task of streamlining the affairs of the municipal councils,” said Dr. Al-Quayid.

“We also expect that the nominated council members will be named sometime next month,” said another elected member, Tarek Al-Qasabi. Both members said that they were hopeful that the ministry would announce the names of nominated members shortly in order to make municipal institutions operational.

The announcement, they said, would pave the way for constituting the 178 municipal councils, which will be composed of seven elected and seven nominated members each.

The exact date of the announcement of new municipal council members was not immediately known. According to the rules, half the members of the 178 municipal councils in the Kingdom will be nominated by the Saudi government.

The municipal councils will become functional only after the ministry releases the final list of nominated and elected members and publicizes the operational guidelines. A total of 592 people were elected in the polls conducted nationwide early this year. The polls were held in three different phases by a secret ballot system.

Asked about salary, perks and benefits currently being given to the newly elected members, Dr. Al-Quayid and Al-Qasabi said that they were not receiving any perks or facilities. “But we have been promised a new office with all necessary facilities,” said Dr. Al-Quayid, adding that most of the matters related to perks, powers, rights, duties and facilities are to be decided by the MOMRA, which acts as a regulatory authority for the municipal councils.

Dr. Al-Quayid, who is also a member of the National Society for Human Rights, said that a chairman and a deputy chairman for every municipal council will be chosen from among the members by an electoral group composed of all elected and nominated members.

“We are also working and discussing among ourselves in order to identify our work priorities and a common list of our future plans will be ready soon,” said Dr. Al-Quayid, in reference to the periodic informal meetings of the new members of the Riyadh Municipal Council.

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