October 23, 2015

Voters in Oman cast ballots for advisory council

Expectations of reasonable turnout

DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) - Voters in Oman are casting ballots for an advisory (shura) council at a time when slumping oil prices are straining the country's finances and a civil war rages in neighboring Yemen.
The official Oman News Agency said Sunday that 590 candidates are competing for 85 seats on the Shura Council. Twenty women are among the candidates.
“I expect to see a reasonable turnout,” said Ahmed Ali Al Mukhaini, an Omani political commentator in Muscat.
“However, if we see a low turnout, then Omanis are expressing their dissatisfaction with the political process. This is to be confirmed when the results are announced.”
He said that candidates have campaigned on reforms, combating corruption and “youth inclusion in policymaking and planning.”
All Omanis over the age of 21 are eligible to vote.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said granted additional powers to the council following Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011. It can approve or offer suggested changes to draft laws, though ultimate authority rests overwhelmingly with the ruler.
The election takes place amid lingering questions about the health of 74-year-old Qaboos, who has ruled more than four decades and has no designated heir.
He returned home in March after months of treatment abroad for an unspecified ailment.

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