Omanis vote for consultative council
Omanis voted on Saturday for the 84 members of a consultative council amid some calls in the Sultanate for the advisory body to be given more power. A total of 388,683 citizens had registered to vote in Oman's 61 wilayats (provinces), where 102 polling stations were closed at 7:00 pm (1500 GMT).
An official source at the Ministry told Oman News Agency (ONA) that the elections main committee did not receive any requests from committees in the wilayats to extend the elections period. The number of wilayats that will elect two members total to 23 - the wilayats whose population is more than 30,000 - whereas the number of wilayats, which will elect one member, total to 38 - the wilayat whose population is less than 30,000.
According to AFP, 21 women are among 631 candidates vying for seats on the Majlis ash-Shura, or Consultative Council, in only the second election open to all citizens over 21. Out of the 102 election centers there were 11 in Muscat, 13 in Dhofar, 29 in Al Batina, 7 in Musandam governorate, 4 in Buraimi governorate, 6 at Dhahirah region, 11 at Dakhiliyah region, 17 at Sharqiyah region and 4 at Al Wusta region.
The advisory council was created in 1991, and three years later Oman became the first Gulf state to give women the right to vote and run for public office. The outgoing council has two female members.
The Majlis ash-Shura, which has a four-year term, can question ministers and advises the government on economic and social issues. But it has no legislative power and no say in defence, internal security or foreign policy. The Oman Tribune on Friday published calls from several professionals for it to be given greater powers. "If they are given the power to suggest laws then more people will stand for election as the council will have authority," Hussain al Harrasi, Economic Researcher at Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the daily.