Friday, February 11, 2005

Cleric-Backed Candidates Win in Riyadh

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Feb 11, 2005 — Candidates backed by Islamic clerics won races in the Saudi Arabian capital in the kingdom's first regular balloting, an election observer said Friday.

Suleiman al-Oqaili told a press conference at which the preliminary results were announced that he saw the seven Riyadh winners' names on a list circulated via cell phones and the Internet.

"It was promoted as a list that had a religious blessing," al-Oqaili said.

A losing candidate objected to the results, claiming that the circulated list violated electoral law by claiming religious backing.

The chief of the election commission, Prince Mansour bin Miteb, told al-Oqaili that objectors had five days to file complaints with the Grievance and Complaints Committee, which is obliged to respond within five days after that.