Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Riyadh, Saudi Prince Mansour, head of his country's election committee, announced that Saudi women would not be permitted to run or vote in next year's round of nationwide municipal elections. He insisted that this was not a ban, but rather a problem of inadequate time for making requisite electoral changes for 178 councils under a new law that did not not specifically exclude women. Read the Saudi Press Agency report of the news conference here, continued here. AP has more. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has pressed for democratization of the Saudi political process, accepted the announcement for the time being as a choice the Saudi government itself had to make, and observed it was "novel that the Saudis are having elections in the first place", but he told Arab TV Tuesday that "These things have to come in due course and (we are) still waiting to see whether that is the final official position of the Saudi government." Review the full transcript of Powell's interview here. AFP has more.