utility bills

11 Saudi princes detained over utility bills protest

MNA International Desk: Saudi Arabian authorities have detained 11 princes after they gathered at a royal palace in Riyadh in a rare protest against the government suspending payment of their utility bills, the public prosecutor said on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has introduced reforms that include reducing energy subsidies, introducing value-added tax and cutting some perks to royal family members to try to cope with a drop in crude prices that has caused a budget deficit estimated at 195 billion riyals ($52 billion) in 2018.

The princes had gathered on Thursday at Qasr al-Hokm palace demanding the cancellation of a recent decree that halted state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members and seeking compensation for a death sentence implemented in 2016 against one of their cousins, Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabeer.

‘Despite being informed that their demands are not lawful, the 11 princes refused to leave the area, disrupting public peace and order. Members of a security services stepped in to restore order and the princes were arrested,’ the public prosecutor’s statement said, without identifying the princes.

‘Following their arrest, they have been charged on a number of counts in relation to these offences. They are detained at Al-Hayer prison south of the capital pending their trial.’

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