Oman organizes first parliamentary elections by direct voting
Oman, Politics, 9/5/2003
Oman will organize the first elections of the Shoura council by direct voting on October 4th, amid expectations of an active participation of the citizens of this Gulf state.
The Omani ministry of the interior which called on citizens to take part in the elections said it has issued so far some 240,000 election cards, noting that the left number of election cards will be issued next week.
The new elections enabled the Omanis who are above 21 years old of both sexes to register for the elections. They number 820,000 out of the total number of the population estimated at 1.96 million inhabitants.
The number of candidates for the membership of the Shoura council is 506 including 15 women. Some 83 members representing all provinces of the Sultanate will be elected.
It is presumed that these elections will constitute a new step on the way to expand the margin of political freedom in this country, while before this new event, the elections of members of the council whose term is three years, used to be by an electing commission appointed by tribes leaders and provinces chieftains.
The electing commission was expanded in 2000 to 175,00 voters ( 30% of them are women) against 51,000 in 1997. The Shoura council which was formed in 1991 used to enjoy a consultancy role and cannot enact laws or take decisions concerning foreign, defense or security policy of the country.
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