Oman details new electoral rules

06 February 2003
Oman's Interior Minister Sayyid Saud bin Ibrahim al-Busaidi on 5 February gave reporters more details of October's elections to the Majlis al-Shura, emphasising that they would be 'free and fair'. To ensure that this is the case, Al-Busaidi said that judicial supervision of the process would be intensified. 'The Justice Ministry undersecretary will be joined by judges of the highest court in the country to form a committee to supervise the electoral process.' Women will be allowed to vote and stand for election to the 83-seat Majlis. 'We will run awareness campaigns to ensure full participation of women,' he promised. In November last year, a decree from Sultan Qaboos allowed all men and women over the age of 21 to vote, as opposed to voters being selected from among tribal leaders, intellectuals and leading businessmen (MEED 28:11:02). Al-Buraidi said that under the new rules, 820,000 citizens would be eligible to vote, and that voter registration will begin in March. Anyone seeking election would have to resign from the government and could only serve for two three-year terms. Al-Buraidi denied that the democratisation of the electoral system was related to US calls for change in the region, saying that it was the culmination of a long process of reform.

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