Oman holds first national election

Monday, October 6, 2003

ABU DHABI Oman has completed its first comprehensive national election.

The election held on Saturday was for the Shura Council and constituted the first attempt to allow citizens of the sultanate to vote for representatives. In all 506 candidates, including 15 women, ran for 83 seats on the council.

One of the women as well as several young men were expected to win council seats. Official results were scheduled to be released on Sunday, Middle East Newsline reported.

In previous elections, Oman declared only 25 percent of citizens eligible to vote for in Shura Council elections. In the latest election, all those over 21 were allowed to vote.

During the campaign, political parties were banned and the authorities prohibited newspaper advertisements and street posters. Candidates were allowed to use the Internet to win votes.

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The Shura Council was established in 1994 and has been limited to consultations with ministers. The panel cannot draft legislation.

Officials said 262,000 people were registered to vote. Voter turnout, which included women, was reported at 30 percent.

Bahrain and Kuwait are the only two of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states that have elected parliaments. Qatar has pledged to hold parliamentary elections in 2004.

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