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Saudi Arabia doesn’t need elections, Syria does, Riyadh envoy to UN says

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Abdallah al-Mouallimi, the Saudi ambassador to the UN (AFP)

Why is Saudi Arabia calling for elections in Syria when it only permits limited municipal elections in its own country? Riyadh’s UN ambassador says it’s because the kingdom doesn’t need elections as its people are among the happiest with their government in the world, a point which has nothing to do with Riyadh banning calls for change of government or even criticizing the state.

“Elections are not the panacea for everything. Just because there are elections in Syria doesn’t mean there have to be elections in Saudi,” said Abdallah al-Mouallimi during an interview published on the Al Jazeera television news network’s website on Saturday.

He added that if a survey was conducted in the kingdom “you will find a high degree of support for the system” which has nothing to do with people being jailed for opposing the system.

In December, the kingdom for the first time allowed women to take part in the country’s municipal elections in which representatives were picked for the “consultative assembly” which can only propose laws and not enact them. Political parties are also prohibited in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Earlier in the month, Amnesty International called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its abuse of laws to stifle dissent.

The Arab kingdom has enforced an “abusive” anti-terror law, which equates peaceful protests with terrorism, and allows it to hand down lengthy jail terms to peaceful critics and human rights activists after holding “deeply unfair” trials for them, the rights group said in a statement.

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