Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives Arab League chief, French economy minister, Ethiopian deputy premier

King Abdullah thanks Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz over efforts on Charitable Society for Orphans Care

Governor of Makkah chairs central hajj committee meeting

5609 running in Saudi municipal council elections

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud thanked Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region and Chairman of the Charitable Society for Orphans Care (ENSAN) on the occasion of holding the First Saudi Conference for Orphans Care.

In a reply cable, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques said to Prince Salman, 'We thank you for what you expressed of good feelings. We pray to God Almighty to guide us for the best of our beloved homeland.'

King Abdullah received Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

During the audience, the latest developments at the Arab arena were discussed.

The audience was attended by Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Prince Meqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chief of General Intelligence; Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; and Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Qattan, Saudi Ambassador to Egypt and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Arab League.

The king also received French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry Christine Lagarde and the accompanying delegation.

During the audience, the French official conveyed to the King the greetings of France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and in turn, the King extended his greetings to the President.

Also, during the audience, issues of common interest between the two countries were discussed.

The audience was attended by Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Prince Miqren bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chief of General Intelligence; Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; Minister of Finance Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf; Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Dr. Mohammed bin Suleiman Al-Jasser; and French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Bertrand Besancenot.

King Abdullah also received at his palace Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalegn.

During the audience, Dessalegn conveyed to the King the greetings and appreciations of President Girma Wolde Giorgis of the Republic of Ethiopia and its Premier Meles Zenawi and in turn the King extended his greetings to the Ethiopian leadership.

Also, during the audience, a number of issues of common interest was discussed.

The audience was attended by Prince Saud al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Prince Meqrin bin Abdulaziz, Chief of General Intelligence; Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi Ambassador to Ethiopia Abdulbaqi Ahmed bin Ajlan.

The occasion was also attended by Ethiopian Minister of Finance, Economy and Development Sufian Ahmed; Ethiopian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohamed and a number of other senior officials from the Ethiopian side.

On the other hand, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Ibn Abdulaziz, the Governor of Makkah Province, who is also the Chairman of Central Hajj Committee, chaired a meeting of the Committee.

Addressing the meeting, the Prince praised Allah Almighty for the concrete success of last year's Hajj season and the current Umrah season, stressing that the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud to provide the best services to pilgrims have had the greatest impact in achieving this success, also praising the support and attention of the Crown Prince, as well as the Second Deputy Premier, who is also the Chairman of Hajj Supreme Committee.

Meanwhile, the General Election Commission announced on Saturday that it would not allow any illegal practices by candidates during their poll campaigns. It said as many as 5,609 are contesting the municipal council elections scheduled to be held on Sept. 29.

Jedaie Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the commission, said candidates should obtain special permission from local election committees to carry out election campaigns and publicity.

“Candidates should follow certain rules and regulations during campaigns in order to avoid disciplinary action,” he said.

The commission said it had observed a number of illegal practices during the last election when some candidates formed alliances while some others circulated a list of candidates on the basis of tribes and ideological inclinations.

“We reject such practices as they go against the election law and campaign regulations,” the commission said. Candidates are not allowed to carry out any campaign from Sept. 18 to 28.

Al-Qahtani said the largest number of candidates was reported in the Riyadh province with 956, followed by Asir 710, Qassim 488, Jazan 479, Madinah 375, Hail 369, Eastern Province 353, Jeddah 328, Baha 279, Tabuk 254, Al-Jouf 227, Taif 224, Najran 177, Makkah 155, Northern Border Province 140 and Al-Ahsa 99.

Abdul Rahman Al-Dahmash, chairman of the election commission, said only 1.2 million people, who have registered their names, will be able to cast their votes. Among the prospective voters, 397,061 registered their names this year.

Election centers in different provinces of the Kingdom pointed out that the number of registered voters was very low compared to the population in each province. “The citizens were cool to the registration drive as they were disappointed by the municipal councils’ work during the last term. They had expected that the councils would improve municipal services but it did not happen,” said one analyst.

According to the latest census conducted on April 28, 2010, there are 18,707,576 Saudis including 9,527,173 males representing 50.9 percent and 9,180,403 females. The number of expatriates amounted to 8,429,401 out of whom 5,932,974 were males representing 70.4 percent.

Women are not allowed to vote in the long-delayed municipal elections this year. Saudi Arabia held phased elections for half the seats on municipal councils in 2005 for the first time in over 40 years.