News ID: 316805
Published: 0240 GMT October 02, 2021

Qataris vote in country's first legislative elections

Qataris vote in country's first legislative elections

Qataris voted on Saturday in the Persian Gulf Arab state's first legislative elections for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council.

Voters trickled into polling stations, where men and women entered separate sections to elect 30 members of the 45-seat body. The emir will appoint the remaining 15 members of the council.

"With the chance to vote, I feel this is a new chapter," Munira, who writes children's books and asked to be identified by only one name, told Reuters. "I'm really happy about the number of women standing as candidates."

The council will have legislative authority and approve general state policies and the budget, but has no control over executive bodies setting defence, security, economic and investment policy for the small but wealthy gas producer.

Latest government lists showed 26 women among 234 candidates across 30 districts in the country, which has for several years held municipal polls.

Campaigning has taken place on social media, community meetings and roadside billboards.

"This is a first-time experience for me ... to be here and meet people talking about these things that we need," said Khalid Almutawah, a candidate in the Markhiya district.

"At the end of this day, the people of Qatar, they're going to be part of the decision making," said another male candidate in the same district, Sabaan Al Jassim, 65.

The election, approved in a 2003 constitutional referendum, comes ahead of Doha hosting the World Cup soccer tournament next year. 

 Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, last month described the vote as a new "experiment" and said the council cannot be expected from the first year to have the "full role of any parliament".

Kuwait has been the only Persian Gulf monarchy to give substantial powers to an elected parliament though ultimate decision-making rests with the emir, as in neighboring Arab states.

 The foreign minister has said there is a "clear process" for the electoral law to be reviewed by the next Shura Council.



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