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'Red Prince' of Saudi Arabia repeats call of reforms in the Kingdom
Nicknamed 'Red Prince' Talal bin Abdul Aziz, the octogenarian half brother of Saudi Arabia King Abdullah has once again echoed the need of political reforms in the country and giving more freedom to women.

HE WAS nicknamed Red Prince for his rebellious character during his youth among various members of the royal family. Prince Talal has demanded democratic reforms in the country like holding parliamentary elections. In an interview given to AFP, he has also sought more rights for the women living in the kingdom.

Prince Talal said that the advisory Consultative Council must be empowered until the parliamentary elections take place. "Until elections are held, God willing, the Majlis Al-Shoura (Consultative Council) should be given the power to legislate, approve the budget and hold officials accountable," Prince Talal told AFP.

Talal, who is not holding any post in the government called his half-brother the king Abdullah a man of reforms. He also expressed hopes that the king will speed up political and social reforms.

Notably, very few calls are made towards bringing reforms in Saudi Arabia, which doesn’t have any parliament and the Consultative Council is toothless 120-member body. The council is supposed to give its opinion on proposed laws and government policies.

Prince Talal also wants more rights and freedom to be given to women population in the country. Presently the Kingdom does not allow female drivers to ferry on the roads. “How can it make sense to allow a driver (a male stranger) to stay in the house day and night while prohibiting mixing between sexes and women from driving? Do we not have confidence in our women?” Prince asked.

Prince Talal strongly criticized religious leaders in the ultra-conservative Kingdom, which opposes any move towards giving vehicle driving rights to women.

In June 2011, female activists had launched a campaign to reject the ban on driving for which many had been arrested also. They were released only after they gave in writing that they will not drive again. The ban on women drivers came in effect in November 1990 when the country took this step after 47 women were arrested and punished for staging a demonstration in cars.

On the economic front, Prince Talal called for the creation of a sovereign fund in the Kingdom similar to those which exist in other Gulf States. He said that such fund will be useful in the post oil-era.

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