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Oman: Women Achieve Progress in Municipal Elections | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tourists stand in front of the Royal Opera House in Omani capital Muscat (AFP)

Muscat – Seven women have been elected to municipal councils in Oman, according to vote results released on Monday by the interior ministry.

It came a day after the sultanate held its second ever-local election.

Voters across the country went to the polls on Sunday to choose 202 councilors from among 731 candidates for 11 municipalities, including the capital, Muscat.

There were 23 women candidates, and seven won seats on local councils – three more than in the previous election.

The interior ministry said 39.85 per cent of the country’s 623,224 registered voters had cast their ballots in Sunday’s election.

The number of voters included 333,733 men and 289,491 women, with an increase of 100,000 from the last elections, according to the Ministry of Interior.

At the national level, Oman has a consultative council with limited powers, the 85-member Majlis Al Shura.

“The election process went very smoothly without any obstacles,” said Khalid Al-Busaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior and the head of the organizing committee of the election.

Busaidi added that the ministry has introduced a new state-of-the-art machine for the first time in the municipal elections to count votes in a quicker, easier and more transparent way.

The new machine counts votes automatically.

The voter only has to insert the paper with a tick marked next to his or her preferred candidate’s name, which were available in all election centers nationwide.

In 1994, Oman became the first Gulf monarchy to give the vote to women and in 2011 Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled for more than 40 decades, decreed that elections should be held for municipal councils.

Municipality chairmen and their deputies are still chosen by the authorities, however.