Saudi King Fahd appointed Friday an expanded 120-member consultative Shura Council, the second expansion of the country's only representative body since it was set up in 1993, said reports.
The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the new all-male council, which operates only as an advisory and not a legislative body, would start a four-year term tomorrow. It replaces a 90-member body.
King Fahd decreed the expansion of the Shura Council, introduced amid promises to bring about gradual popular representation, as part of long-awaited political reforms.
"We hope (the council members) will continue their efforts to serve their religion and country," SPA quoted King Fahd as saying.
The council will again be headed by Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim bin Jubair, a former justice minister.
Royal decrees issued Friday showed that the new council included members with doctorate degrees, retired senior officers, engineers and others.
When Saudi Arabia raised the number of Shura Council members to 90 from 60 in 1997, the step was praised at home and abroad for increasing popular input in government affairs, said Reuters.
Diplomats and members of the council were quoted by Reuters as saying in the past that the council - despite its energetic debates and input in government affairs from economics to foreign relations - was not a Western-style democractic body and had no intention of becoming one – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )