A nation votes as Oman goes to Shura elections

Business Saturday 26/October/2019 23:18 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: More than 700,000 Omanis across the Sultanate prepare to vote in today’s Majlis Al Shura elections and election officials have taken all precautions to ensure that the process goes off without a hitch.

An official at Oman’s Ministry of the Interior told Times of Oman: “All the polling stations are fully prepared for the Shura election. Voters can cast their votes comfortably and without any delay. We call upon voters to cast their votes without hesitation as 110 polling centres are available across the wilayats.”

The number of voters registered for the upcoming Majlis Al Shura election stands at 713,335, up from the 611,906 voters in Shura elections term in 2015. Among the voters, 375,801 are male and 337,534 are female.
This year, there are 40 female and 597 male candidates vying for 86 seats in the Shura Council.

Applicants must ensure that their identity cards are supported by the Electronic Authentication System (PKI). The Shura Council comprises of 85 elected members representing all the wilayats of the Sultanate. Members of the Council are elected for a four-year tenure.

The number of members representing a wilayat depends on the density of population of each wilayat. A wilayat whose population is less than 30,000 on the date of the opening of the candidacy of the Shura Council is entitled to one member, while wilayats whose population exceeds that is represented by two, according to the election regulations of the Shura Council.

Article 69 of the Shura members election process stipulates that a jail term ranging from 10 days to one year and a fine of between OMR1,000 and OMR4,000 will be imposed on any candidate who promises cash or other kinds of incentives in return for votes.

The Omani Shura Council was established in 1991 to replace the Consultative State Council, which lasted from 1981 to 1991.

Earlier this month, His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al Busaidi, minister of Interior, issued Ministerial Decree No. 152/2019, establishing a number of unified polling centres for the elections of the Shura Council. The decision specified that the unified centres in Muscat Governorate would be in the Wilayat of Bausher, with Al-Ola School for Basic Education assigned as the polling station for male voters, and Thuraya Bint Mohammed School for female voters.

Voters who belong to the Governorates of Dhofar, Musandam and Al Wusta are also eligible to vote at the two polling stations in Muscat. In the Dhofar Governorate, the town of Thumrait will feature the unified polling centres for the Shura election, where Jaber Bin Hayyan Basic Education School has been allocated for male voters and Thumrait School for Basic Education has been designated for female voters.

Voters of the Governorates of Muscat, Musandam, Buraimi, Ad Dakhiliyah, North and South Al Batinah, South and North Sharqiyah, Al Dhahirah and Al Wusta are eligible to cast their votes at these schools.
Abu Bakr Al Siddiq School for Basic Education will be open to male voters and Musandam Basic Education School will serve as the polling station for female voters in Khasab, Musandam Governorate.

In the Dakhiliyah Governorate, Adam will be the unified polling centre, with Adam Basic School for Boys being used by all the voters. Voters at the governorates of Dhofar, Musandam, Buraimi, North and South Al Batinah can also vote at Adam Basic School.

Haima School for Basic Education in Al Wusta Governorate will be a unified centre for voters from the governorates of Muscat, Dhofar, Musandam, Buraimi, Al Dakhiliyah, North and South Al Batinah, South and North Sharqiyah and Al Dhahirah, should they be in Al Wusta at the time. Voting will take place at the unified polling stations on Sunday, 27 October from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm.

In addition to this, the Interior Ministry official confirmed that the process of remote voting — which enabled Omanis outside the Sultanate to vote in the Shura elections, provided they had been registered — took place on 19 October and went smoothly and without any interruption. All conditions were conducive for the success of this electoral event, with those who wished to cast their vote able to do so on that day from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.

“Omani voters outside the Sultanate and members of the electoral committees cast their votes in the elections for the ninth Shura Council to choose their representatives in the Majlis Al Shura, using the remote voting application on smartphones,” he went on to add.

A statement from the national news agency, the Oman News Agency, said on the matter, “During this period, the Ministry of the Interior has been keen to use the latest technology in the electoral process, which makes it easier for voters to cast their ballots. The ministry also launched a special application for smartphones, called ‘elections of the members of the ninth term of the Shura Council’ which is available in stores for both Apple and Android systems.”

“The application offers a variety of electronic services for the browser through which you can see much of the content, including the final lists of candidates as well as the final lists of voters,” added ONA. “The application allows you to search for the registration status in the electoral register of voters and to see the locations of polling stations where the voter is allowed to vote and extract a certificate of voter attendance in addition to viewing the results of the initial count.”