(11 Feb 2005) TRUE DATE CREATED = 10/02/2005
***NO SLATE AT START OF STORY***
1. Various cityscapes
2. Traffic going round roundabout
3. Various interior shopping mall, women completely covered up (with just eyes visible) walking around shopping
4. Husband and wife sitting at table, woman eats chips by putting them up under her cloak
5. Various of city, buildings, traffic
6. Close up road sign
7. Entrance to polling station, men looking at notices
8. Closer shot men looking at notice
9. Various interior polling station, men voting
10. Old man puts his ballot paper into box
11. SOUNDBITE: (English) Mohamed Abd Alaa al-Hemidan, Saudi official:
"(Regarding) the absence of women voting in this election, I am very disappointed, disappointed that the women could not vote in this election, but it's a very important step and we are looking forward to (hearing) the women's voice in the future."
12. Various of polling station, men voting
13. Exterior King Saud University building
14. Set up Alsassi
15. SOUNDBITE: (English) Dr Hatoon Ajwad Alsassi, Professor of women's history, King Saud University:
"It's very disappointing and I feel the government has failed women by not allowing them to participate in this term of elections, especially (considering) that the understanding was that Saudi Arabia was pushing hard for reforms, for political reforms, and for women's participation in public affairs. Eliminating women and excluding women from municipal elections is not giving a good message, the right message, to women. The message we receive as Saudi women is that we are not counted for, we are not worthy, we are not complete citizens, we are just unworthy."
16. Wide shot cityscape
Male voters converged at polling stations around the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Thursday to participate in city elections - the first time Saudis are taking part in a vote that largely conforms to international standards.
Women were banned from running or voting.
Dr Hatoon Ajwad Alsassi, who is a professor of women's history at King Saud University said the refusal to allow women to vote or run for election gave a very negative message to the kingdom's women:
"The message we receive as Saudi women is that we are not counted for, we are not worthy, we are not complete citizens," she said.
Speaking shortly before polls closed on Thursday, Prince Mansour bin Miteb, head of the election commission, said there were no reports of irregularities and that voter turnout was good.
Overall turnout was expected to be low - only 149,000 of 600,000 eligible voters were registered to vote.
Turnout was light at some polling stations early on Thursday morning, the beginning of the weekend for most Saudis, but the number of people increased as the day progressed.
The vote represents a small political reform in this absolute monarchy that has come under increasing pressure from the West to adopt democratic standards.
Unlike other recent elections in the region, in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, the Saudi elections are limited to the selection of some city officials and not national leaders.
As a result, some voters had limited expectations of the councilmen they were to choose.
But others were optimistic that the elections would lead to further reforms in the country which is tightly ruled by the Saudi royal family and often criticised by international human rights activists.
More than 1,800 candidates were contesting 127 seats in the capital and surrounding villages on Thursday, with almost 700 of them running for seven seats in Riyadh.
Election officials said partial results could be ready as soon as Thursday night, but final results may not be released until Friday or Saturday.
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