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Posted On: 21 May 2008 08:31 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:08 pm

Qatar takes first step towards polls

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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Qatar's appointed consultative council has adopted a new electoral law paving the way for two-thirds of its 45 members to be directly elected in a first for the Gulf emirate, reports said yesterday. The elections have been in the offing ever since a new constitution came into force in the emirate in June 2005. Qatar has held three sets of local elections, in 1999, 2003 and 2007, to a single municipal council which covers the whole emirate. In last year's local polls, a female candidate, Sheikha Yussef Al Jiffri, won a contested election for the first time. She had been returned unopposed in 2003. The new electoral law sets the voting age at 18, lays down rules for campaign funding and outlaws vote-buying, newspapers reported. Two-thirds of council members are to be elected, and the rest named by the Emir. Despite the democracy rhetoric of the US adminstration of President George W Bush, the conservative Gulf states have been slow to hand over real legislative power to elected representatives. Bahrain and Kuwait have long had elected parliaments although in both countries the ruling families retain a firm grip on the levers of power. Oman has a wholly elected advisory council, while the United Arab Emirates in 2006 held its first elections for half the seats on a similar body.