A year after Bahrainis extended their support for a national charter for democratic reform, Bahrain's ruler on Wednesday took a major step toward representative government by approving a law on municipal elections, according to AP.
The extraordinary highlight of the law is that women will, for the first time have the right to run for public office.
An official announcement that Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa agreed to the law came just a few hours after the Cabinet approved the law in an exceptional session.
According to the announcement made on Bahrain's state-run television and the official Bahrain News Agency, the Emir's decree permits men and women alike, aged 21 and over to vote.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals who are permanent Bahraini residents and others who own property throughout Bahrain are also eligible to vote in municipal polls.
Earlier Wednesday, Bahrain's Cabinet decided on the municipal election draft law on the eve of the first anniversary of a historic referendum in which Bahrainis overwhelmingly voted for a national charter which promised an elected parliament, independent judiciary, and greater freedoms and equality.
The charter set in motion a process that may put Bahrain, which is ruled by a royal family, on the way to democratic rule in this conservative region where political freedoms are limited.
No official date has been set for the first municipal elections. The royal decree said the decision rests with the Prime Minister.
Until now, the government has appointed municipal officials. (Albawaba.com)
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