Gulf | Oman

Oman all set for municipal elections

1,636 candidates, including 49 women, in fray

  • By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 15:20 November 15, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Sunil K. Vaidya
  • Aziza al Habsi

Muscat: The upcoming municipal elections would be closer to ordinary citizens compared to Shura, believes a young candidate from Muttrah district in Muscat.

Interior Minister Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Al Busaidi said that voting for the elections in all wilayats of the Sultanate will be held from 7am to 7pm.

In a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA), he said that the voting in the Sultanate’s embassies in the GCC countries and the Sultanate’s Trade Office in Dubai, in addition to the Election Centres will be on December 15 from 8am to 6pm.

About 1,636 candidates, including 49 women, are contesting the elections slated for December 22 for a total of 192 seats in 11 municipal councils across the country.

“These elections are important for us as well the country as a whole,” Numan Al Rawahi, one of the 29 candidates for four seats in Muttrah, told Gulf News.

“With core issues being local, I think successful municipal council candidates will be more effective in their role,” the young private sector employee enthused.

In his opinion more focus during these elections would be on issues that impact people in general.

Al Rawahi, who campaigns for the local problems, including traffic snarls and need for better road network in old areas of Muscat, is using social media to reach out to about 16,000 voters in Muttrah, which includes the oldest parts of Muscat as well as the recently developed modern dwellings in Qurum area.

He also predicted larger participation compared to the past two Shura elections that set the precedent of public voting in the country.

However, he confessed that not everyone is interested in the elections. “We are finding it hard to explain to people that municipal councils are totally different from Shura,” he said, adding that some people still think that municipal councils would be like Shura.

The general perception in the country is that Shura has no constructive role to play and has no powers to take any decisions. Some Omanis don’t see any point in taking part in the election process in the country.

Al Rawahi hopes that the social media campaign as well as posters and leaflets would spread better awareness ahead of the elections.

He agreed that the tribal factor will play a role in people choosing their candidates to the 11 councils.

On expenses, he said it depends on how a candidate carries out his or her campaign. “Putting up large posters at streets could raise elections budget while some may keep it within reach by using leaflets and handbills,” he said.

“Municipal council elections will be another step in the direction of establishing real democratic action in the country,” believes journalist Aziza Al Habsi, who has twice contested Shura elections in the past.

She pointed out these election process seeks to form the principle of partnership between government and citizens.

Aziza also pointed out that the elected municipal councils in other regions, outside Muscat, would get a chance to ask for a major share in the development process.

Like Al Rawahi, the feisty journalist also fears poor voters’ turn out in the municipal council elections.

She hopes that the elected municipal councils would carry citizens’ voice and compensate for whatever disappointment people have from Shura.

 

 

- 546,428 voters are eligible to vote after completion of the registration process.

- 11 Councils will have a total of 192 members

- 1,636 candidates, including 49 women, are contesting the elections.

- An automated system would be used for the entire election process

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