Muscat Monday's announcement about holding Municipal Council elections is seen by analysts as a step forward in the path of democracy in Oman but sceptics questioned the urgency behind the move.

Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Al Busaidi, Minister of Interior, announced the opening of the nominations for the councils but no time frame for holding the elections has been announced. The nomination process will start from May 19 and close on May 30.

"It is unprecedented and good news," Omani tweep, Raid Zuhair Al Jamali, told Gulf News.

However, he questioned the manner in which the announcement was made through Oman News Agency (ONA) on Sunday. "Why this sudden decision to hold Municipal council elections and why this short notice of about 15 days and even shorter period of 12 days to file nominations," wondered Ali Jamali, a respected name among the Omani Netizens.

Not enough time

"Very very short time is given to prepare for the elections as against the Shura elections," he reckons.

He also pointed at the reverse trend. "In most cases, countries move forward from Municipal council elections to bigger stage of legislative councils and here we are holding municipal council elections after Shura," he said.

He felt that last year most Shura candidates had highlighted in their manifestoes issues which are usually are tackled by municipal councils. "I would like to see how these elections shape up, including election date."

Political analyst and veteran columnist Awadh Bakhuwair sees the announcement as a positive step in the direction of democracy.

"The government is kind of creating second stage of elections for running, by people, every aspect of administration in the country," he said. "Our Sultan's speeches repeatedly focused on people's role in governance and this is a good step in that direction," Bakhuwair believes.

He hoped that experienced businessmen and educated people would get elected to the councils to play a positive role in administration.

Members of Shura and State Council are not eligible to contest the elections. The rules also bar all government employees from contesting the Municipal Council elections.

Widespread contest

The governorates and affiliated wilayats:

Muscat: . The affiliated wilayats: Muscat, Muttrah, Amerat, Baushar, Seeb and Qurrayat.

Musandam: The affiliated wilayats: Khasab, Diba, Bukha and Madha. The centre of the governorate is the Wilayat of Khasab.

Al Buraimi: The affiliated wilayats: Buraimi, Mahdha and Sinaina.

Al Dakhiliyah: The affiliated wilayats: Nizwa, Bahla, Manah, Hamra, Adam, Izki, Samayil and Bid Bid.

Al Batinah North: The affiliated wilayats: Sohar, Shinas, Liwa, Saham, Khabourah and Suwaiq.

Al Batinah South: The affiliated wilayats: Rostaq, Awabi, Nakhl, Wadi al Maawil, Barka and Musannah.

Al Sharqiyah South: The affiliated wilayats: Sur, Kamil W'al Wafi, Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan, Jaalan Bani Bu Ali and Masirah.

Al Sharqiyah North: The affiliated wilayats: Ibra, Mudhaibi, Bidiya, Kabil, Wadi Bani Khalid and Dima W'attayeen.

Al Dhahira: The affiliated wilayats: Ibri, Yankul and Dhank.

— S.K.V.