April 21, 2015 -- Updated 4:10 pm GMT

Akishino & Kiko Meet Bulgaria’s Former King

As Japan’s Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko wrapped their visit to Bulgaria, they took time to meet who once ruled Bulgaria – in two different ways.

akishino simeon 300x206 Akishino & Kiko Meet Bulgarias Former King

Simeon Saxe-Coburg was briefly King of Bulgaria back in the 1940′s, until he was overthrown by the communists. Early in the millenium, he returned to his country to run as prime minister. He served as Bulgaria’s premier until 2007.

Akishino and Kiko met with Saxe-Coburg, along with his wife, Margarita Gomez-Acebo y Cejuela, as part of their final engagement in Bulgaria early Saturday.

The former King and prime minister visited Japan in December 2004, where he was welcomed by Akishino’s father, the Emperor. His visit was unprecedent, as Saxe-Coburg had a private meeting with Emperor Akihito. He also took part in a tea ceremony.

Japan’s Prince and Princess are on a two week tour of Europe where they have been celebrating Japan’s bilateral ties with four countries. Bulgaria was their second stop.

Hungary and Romania will be up next.

Saudi Activists Petition Reform of Monarchy

Posted in: Saudi Arabia

A group of Saudi human rights and opposition activists sent King Abdullah a petition Friday. They called for a creation of an election parliament and a non-royal prime minister to run the government.

“We request his majesty to implement his promised reform initiatives by establishing a modern state built on democracy, justice, dignity, equality, tolerance, pluralism and citizens’ rights,” the 77 activists said in their petition.

saudi king 300x200 Saudi Activists Petition Reform of Monarchy
AP File

In other words, these activists are asking for a constitutional monarchy in place of the absolute monarchy that runs Saudi Arabia. However, their petition did not directly request for a constitutional government, due to a series of arrests back in 2003 after a similar request. The petition simply uses such countries as Jordan and Morocco as examples.

“We demand that the prime minister should be a commoner to ease accountability and to manifest the principle of circulations of authority,” the petition reads.

It added a call for “limiting the terms of appointed royal family members in government posts.”

Saudi Arabia is ruled entirely by the Al-Saud family. With King Abdullah as it’s leader, his half brothers Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz are deputy premiers.

Saudi Arabia held its first ever elections in 2005 for municipal councils. There were supposed to be another round this year, but no announcement has been made.

“It will be in the best interest of the monarchy if the public is allowed to participate in the election process and is given a choice, and a voice. This in turn will lead to healthy competition and will allow democracy to prevail,” the activists said.

The call for a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia may stem from the upcoming secret trials of nearly 1,000 suspected Al-Qaeda militants. The activists criticized the tribunals in their petition, saying they want the trials to be public.

In addition, they are requesting for the country’s closely-entwined executive, judicial and legislative branches to be separate.