Omani women lose out in elections

Omani women failed to expand their share in the advisory council of the Gulf sultanate, barely managing to hold on to two seats in the first ballot open to all citizens.

    Fifteen women vied for seats on Majlis al-Shura

    According to initial results released on Sunday morning, Lujainah Muhsen Darwish and Rahila al-Riyami will continue to represent different districts of Muscat on the elected 83-member Majlis al-Shura council.

    None of the 13 other women candidates who vied for seats with 491 men made a breakthrough in or outside the capital, the results released by the interior ministry and reported by official media showed.

    Despite government pleas for candidates to be chosen on the basis of merit rather than kinship, most voters appeared to favour relatives or a candidate picked by their tribal chief.

    Only 262,000 Omanis had registered to vote, despite a government campaign urging them to exercise their right to vote. The franchise was given to all citizens aged over 21, compared to just one in four of the population of 1.96 million in the previous election, three years ago.

    This prompted officials to play down the figure of eligible voters, which they had initially put at 822,000.

    More than a third - 95,000 - of registered voters were women.

    Official turnout figures were expected to be released later on Sunday .

    Majlis al-Shura, elected for a fifth three-year term, advises the government on economic and social issues, but has no say in defence, internal security or foreign policy.



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