Muscat: Seven women were elected to Oman’s Municipal Council in the second-ever such vote held in the country on Sunday.
The result marks a significant increase from 2012, when four women won seats.
“Society is becoming more aware of how important the woman’s role is, in pushing the wheels of development in the country along with men,” Mohammad Al Hinai, an Omani political commentator, told Gulf News.
Of the 23 women candidates vying for seats this election, seven secured wins — two in the Buraimi governorate, two in North Batinah, two in Muscat and one in South Batinah.
For the first time, an entire province is being represented by only women.
Mariam Al Shamsi and Latifa Al Manei won the only seats for the Sunnainah province of the Buraimi governorate.
Sana Al Mashari and Amna Al Beloushi will represent their respective provinces (Amerat and Seeb) in the governorate of Muscat.
Rahma Al Ghufaili will represent the Liwa province of North Batinah governorate and Moza Al Hosni will reperesent Khabourah province of North Batinah.
Rahma Al Nufli was elected as a municipal member of Musanah province of South Bartinah governorate.
Sunday’s polls triggered a huge turnout, as more Omanis became registered voters — 623,224 in total including 333,733 men and 289,491 women with an increase of 100,000 from the last election, according to the Ministry of Interior.
731 candidates were contesting for 202 seats.
To encourage people to vote, the ministry had allocated 107 election centres across the country including 18 centres for men, 18 for women and 71 centres for both men and women.
“The election process went very smoothly without any obstacles,” said Khalid Al Busaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior and the head of the organising committee of the election.
A new state-of-the-art machine was used for the first time in the municipal elections to count votes more efficiently, and to ensure transparency.
Under the system, the voter inserts the paper, marked with a tick, next to the candidate of his/her choice.
Oman established its first Municipal Council in the capital Muscat in 1939; all members were appointed by the government.
In 1972 it was restructured to limit participation only in the Muscat governorate.
In 2012, for the first time, Oman opened the Municipal Council up for elections.
Candidates must be Omani, not less than thirty years old and have no criminal record.
Candidates should submit their applications to offices of the walis (governors) in the provinces from where they wish to contest.
Members of the elected Shura Council and appointed State Council are not eligible to contest the municipal elections.
The rules also bar all government employees from contesting.
Under a law promulgated last year, 61 provinces in the country will have seats in the Municipal Council.
The council’s term is four years.