Last updated: 25 September, 2011

Oman to hold elections on October 15

More than 1,000 candidates, among them 77 women, will compete in Oman’s consultative council elections to be held on October 15, the sultanate’s deputy interior minister told reporters Sunday.

Mohammed al-Bousaidi urged all eligible voters to confirm their registration before Wednesday to participate in the polls in which 1,133 candidates will compete for seats in the council for the term that ends in 2015.

Rights groups will not be invited to monitor the elections which will be covered by local and international media as well as civil society organisations, he said.

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos has ordered a “study to extend the council’s powers,” Bousaidi said without giving further details.

The 84-member advisory council, which was created in 1991 and has a four-year term, questions ministers and advises the government on socio-economic issues but has no legislative power or role in defence, internal security or foreign policy. Political parties remain banned.

Oman, a non-OPEC member, was the first Gulf Arab state to give women the right to vote and stand for public office in 1994.

Elections are becoming more frequent in the Gulf, as Arab monarchies take tentative steps towards meeting demands for reform.

But only Kuwait and Bahrain have elected parliaments and in the latter the elected chamber shares legislative power with an appointed upper house.