A group of about 100 leading Saudi Arabian intellectuals handed a petition to the government on 23 December calling on ministers to accelerate political reform in the kingdom. The petition, which was delivered to Crown Prince Abdullah, calls for an elected parliament, an independent judiciary and equal rights for women. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Saud al-Faisal, said on 23 December that the proposed reforms would take time. 'Being careful and fastidious does not mean we are giving up on the reform process,' he said. 'Our leaders do not regard the Saudi Arabian people as a laboratory in which to test ideas.'
The petition was handed over hours after Saudi Arabia's King Fahd officially named a minister of state in charge of Shura Council affairs. 'Saud bin Saeed al-Mat'hami was named minister of state and cabinet member for Shura Council affairs,' said a royal decree published by the official SPA news agency (MEED 5:12:03).