Manama: With one week remaining until Qatar holds its Central Municipal Council (CMC) elections, the number of candidates for the seats stood at 118, including five women.

According to officials, 136 had signed up to run, while 18 of them pulled out of race later.

The organising committee on Tuesday reminded hesitant candidates they have until Thursday to announce their withdrawal.

Thursday is also the deadline for candidates to register their agents who will be allowed into the voting halls, the organizing committee said, insisting that under the rules, the agent must be from the same constituency as the candidate.

Three of the 29 seats have been secured by sitting members after no challengers signed up in their constituencies.

Jassem Abdullah Al Maliki carried the First Constituency while Rabia Hamad Ajlan Al Kaabi won the 27th Constituency and Saeed Mubarak Al Rashidi would continue to represent the 28th Constituency.

For the others, the contest looks particularly challenging as several factors, mainly tribal affiliations, are carefully considered by voters before casting their ballots.
Salem Saqr Al Muraikhi, the head of the elections legal committee, said that the polling stations would remain open from 8 am until 5 pm.

“However, the head of the polling station could extend the timing for casting ballots by the voters who are inside the premises by 5 pm,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Sharq. “The main gate will be closed at 5 pm,” he added.

A 30-minute break will be observed between 12 and 12:30 to allow time for prayers and lunch, he said.

“The boxes will be sealed and off limits during that time,” he said

Ballot counting will start immediately after the end of the polling and the candidate with the highest score will be declared winner.

In the case of a tie between two or more candidates, the winner will be decided by a drawing or another method based on the element of chance.

The elections on May 13 will be the fifth since the CMC was established.