OMANIS EVINCE IMMENSE INTEREST IN MC ELECTIONS

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Homegrown democracy takes roots

Zahid Malik

Friday, December 21, 2012 – Muscat—One can witness deep interest all around in the first-ever Municipal Council elections starting on 22 December and the initiative of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said is being described as yet another step towards democratization of the system. The Sultan’s people-friendly policies and his direct contact with the elders of various tribes coupled with Majlis-e-Daula and Majlis Ash’Shura are being considered as a form of democracy which suits the genesis of the people of the Sultanate. “It will be now almost a fuller empowerment of the people of Oman,” said a local businessman. It was certainly, as a visiting journalist put it, a democratic system which has grown from the soil of Oman and it was taking deep roots.

Omani Interior Minister Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al Busaidi had earlier announced that the country’s first ever elections to Oman’s 11 municipal councils will take place on December 22.

According to the Municipal Election Law issued last year, any Omani citizen, aged 30 is eligible to stand as a candidate. Members of the State Council and Majlis Ash’shura and government employees and security personnel are not allowed to contest. 192 seats are available. Of the 1,636 candidates, 49 are women.

Approximately 546,000 Omanis are eligible to vote. “Municipal council elections will be another step in the direction of establishing real democratic action in the country,” said Omani journalist Aziza Al Hasbi.

A senior official of the Information Ministry in an interaction with this scribe explained that in many respects the democratic process launched by HM Sultan bin Qaboos bin Said was better in many ways compared with democratic process in some of the Arab States.