Muscat: The first phase of Oman’s first municipal councils elections was held yesterday at the Sultanate’s embassies in GCC states and the consulate in Dubai.
In another first, the Election Commission (EC) also held e-voting on Saturday for returning officers, the other EC staff members as well as citizens of Musandam and Dhofar region who work in Muscat.
On December 22, 546,428 voters will exercise their franchise to elect 192 candidates for 11 municipal councils across the country. A record number of 1,475 candidates, including 46 women, are contesting the elections but the overall enthusiasm is not as in past Shura elections.
“I reckon that voters’ turn-out for the municipal council elections would be less than Shura elections last year,” Numan Al Rawahi, one of the 29 candidates for four seats in Muttrah, told Gulf News.
He also agreed that the campaign, particularly in Muscat, hasn’t been as vocal as in the past elections for the 84-member Majlis Ashura.
“This time Muscat Municipality had laid down strict regulations regarding putting up banners and posters,” he revealed, adding that candidates were restricted from putting up any posters on main thoroughfares like the newly-built Muscat Expressway or Sultan Qaboos Street from Palace Roundabout in Birka to the Muscat Palace.
The election commission had permitted 20 posters/banners per candidate but with only internal roads available for publicising their candidatures, contestants like Al Rawahi had put up around 10-12 posters of different sizes.
He pointed out that the campaign posters were everywhere in the other wilayats or provinces.
Although he is not very optimistic about the voter turn-out, Al Rawahi agreed that the campaign carried out by the EC in local media, including radio and television, has had its impact. “There seems to be more awareness in the last one week,” he conceded.
Voters from Dhofar and Musandam cast their ballots on Saturday at the two centres — Al Aula School for Basic Education and Thuraya Al Busaidiyah School for Basic Education in the province of Bausher. All the returning officers and other staff needed for election day also voted at the two centres.
The canvassing will end on December 21 and it will be not allowed in any form on election day.
The results of the elections will be announced on December 23.