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Will we or won’t we?

Will we or won’t we?

Eman Al Nafjan, Saudi blogger, asks whether we will see an uprising in the kingdom. Her view? ‘We are still on the train heading to revolution town.’

March 1, 2011 4:34 by

Eleventh: the past years have revealed the increasing aggravation, tampering and mismanagement of public money. This requires the establishment of the Shura Council-elect to employ its powers to control and make accountable all government agencies. This is to be accomplished by establishing independent structures and administrative bodies that are able to perform regulatory functions, and the declaration of their findings to the people, especially cases related to administrative corruption, abuse of power and tampering with public money by government agencies. We in this area need to adopt the principle of transparency and accountability, and establish an institutional framework to ensure these principles, which consist of:

a) The establishment of a surveillance commission that has the benefit of national integrity, independence and immunity, and whose investigation results are open to the public.

b) to enable citizens to oversee the use of public funds by government agencies, and the abolition of restrictions that prevent the press from accessing information on transactions suspected of being involved in corruption.

Twelfth: oil revenues have leapt to high levels over the past five years, and consequently a lot of money was made available to the government. The people should benefit from this increase in funds, and its spending must be rationalized, rather than it being squandered on expensive projects of little use. This calls for the reconsideration of the current development plans and their basis. The building of long-term strategies for the overall development of the country; the focus must be on the expansion of national production, laying the foundation for alternative economic sources, job provision, and increasing the private sector’s participation in economic policy-making.

In conclusion, we call on the political leadership, to adopt the proposed reform program. In order to gain the people’s trust in the government’s sincerity and determination to reform, the following four steps must be taken immediately:

1 – the issuance of a royal announcement that confirms the government’s intention to undertake a program of political reform, and to develop a specific timetable to begin and where it will be applied.

2 – the immediate release of political prisoners. Those that have been proven to have committed crimes to be tried without delay, with the judicial guarantees necessary to secure justice for all.

3 – Canceling the travel ban imposed on a large number of opinion makers.

4 – Lifting of restrictions on freedom of the press and expression, and the empowerment of citizens to express their views openly and peacefully. And to stop the persecution suffered by those who express their opinions peacefully.

As we address this letter to our political leadership and the citizens of our country, we reaffirm the solidarity of all; people and government, in the face of threats, and in avoidance of unexpected consequences. We are confident that all have absorbed the lessons learned from the recent experience of our brother Arab countries. The challenges can only be overcome through a serious, thorough and prompt, participation of all in their resolution, and through the strengthening of national unity and achieving the aspiration of the people of a glorious and worthy homeland.

Eman Al Nafjan is a post-graduate student from Riyadh and author of the Saudi Woman blog.

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