Oman vote changes little

06 October 2003
Results from the elections in Oman on 4 October show that there has been little change in the make up of the Majlis al-Shura (representative council). About 820,000 Omanis, nearly half of the indigenous population, were eligible to vote in the poll. Citizens over the age of 21 were invited to vote for candidates standing for the fifth term of the 83-member body. A total of 506 candidates - 15 of them women - vied for seats on the council. Election officials announced that a strong turnout led to long queues at polling stations across the country, and that preliminary figures showed a turnout of well over 50 per cent by midday in certain areas, reported local press.

Critics in the country say that tribal loyalties in the sultanate have prevailed in influencing voters' support, causing little change in the make-up of the council. Although about 100,000 women voted in the election only two of those standing as candidates were elected. One female candidate, Rafiah al-Talei, claimed that some candidates may have used unfair campaigning strategies, including luring voters with money (MEED 3:10:03).

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