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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Driving ban stays for Saudi women
Voter registration billboards in Riyadh on Monday
Conservatives fear women will be allowed to mix freely
Saudi Arabia's interior minister has dismissed growing pressure to allow women to drive.

Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz said the Muslim country had other priorities.

The kingdom imposes severe restrictions on women, including barring them from voting or going out in public unaccompanied by a male relative.

Prince Nayef said he was surprised when a member of the consultative Shura council proposed last month that the driving ban be lifted.

Mohammad al-Zulfa called for a gradual lifting of the ban, which the council declined to discuss.

"Does he understand what the priorities are?" Prince Nayef asked, in comments to the official Saudi Press Agency.

"We consider [the question] to be secondary, not a priority.

"These matters are decided according to the general good and what is dictated by women's honour, but I urge everybody to put a stop to this and not make an issue out of it that pits one group against another," he said.

Conservatives argue that if women were allowed to drive, they would be able to mix freely with men.

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