Qatar pursues steps towards democracy
Qatar, Politics, 4/21/2003
On April 29th the Qataris will be preparing to take part in the referendum that aims at enabling Qatar to have the first written constitution.
The new Qatari draft constitution states to single out the three executive, legislative and judicial authorities. The legislative authority is practiced by a Shoura council composed of 45 members, two thirds of them are elected by direct general voting and the other one third is appointed by the Emir of Qatar.
It is expected that the special elections on this council whose duration will continue four years to be regulated in 2004. The Emir can reject the signing of a law by the council under the condition that this law will be submitted once again to the council within three months together with provided clarifications. On the other side, the Amir of Qatar has to sign the law if it is submitted again by the Shoura council. The Amir in emergency cases is able to suspend the law.
Although the new constitution gives the Amir the authority to desolve the council, the Amir is obliged to call for new elections within 6 months. The constitution also states to keep the authority in the hands of al-Thani family and the leaders of Qatar the inheritors of the current Amir.
The draft constitution also states the freedom of expression and formation of societies.
The constitution also states equal rights of citizens in rights and public duties and stresses the right of the woman in Qatar to be elected and to vote.
Worthy mentioning that the Qatari woman took part in the municipal elections in 1999 for the first time in the states of the region. The first woman reached the membership of the first municipal council by the beginning of this April after she had won the municipal elections.
Qatar started the March of democracy in 1996 when the Amir of Qatar, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani assumed power. There is an appointed legislative council in Qatar since 1972. Some 84 voting centers will be opened in various parts of the state of Qatar.
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