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Oman

Oman's Majlis Al-Shura election fails to excite voters

Reuters/Sultan Al Hasani

Oman’s consultative council, the Majlis Al-Shura, is to be reelected today but the public seems largely indifferent, after the failure of Omani leader Sultan Qaboos to deliver on promises to give it more power.

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The Sultan’s promise was a response to February’s demonstrations against corruption and better living standards.

Some 518,000 of Omans two million population are eligible to vote.

More than 1,100 candidates, including 77 women, will compete for four-year terms in the 84-seat council.

Until now, the public has not shown much interest in the elections.

Analysts say this lack of interest can be attributed to delay in announcing measures to beef up the council's authority.

Sultan Qaboos in March ordered a study to extend the council's powers to be completed in 30 days, but nothing has been announced since.

The council was created in 1991 and has the authority to question ministers and advises the government on socio-economic issues.

But it does not have legislative power, nor any role in defence, internal security or foreign policy.

Political parties do not exist in Oman.

But in a reaction to February's protests, Sultan Qaboos announced a cabinet reshuffle and the creation of 50,000 jobs.

Demonstrators then insisted their protests were aimed at what they called "corrupt" officials and not at Qaboos, who has ruled Oman for 40 years.

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