The much-awaited polls “will take place at the beginning of next year”, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, who is also first deputy prime minister, said on Saturday after delivering a lecture on the “culture of democracy”.
However the foreign minister also took a swipe at the United States and the West in general for trying to “impose” democracy in the Middle East.
“The West tries to impose democracy on us and on Iraq…Democracy must come from within, with the encouragement of others,” he said.
“The Americans came to impose democracy in Iraq. I don’t think what we see (there) is positive,” he said in an apparent reference to the violence which continues to plague Iraq three years after the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.
He said an election law was currently being drafted and would be finalised by the summer.
Elections have been promised in Qatar, a close US ally, since a constitution was approved by referendum in 2003.
The constitution, which came into effect last June, clears the way for the separation of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches while keeping real power in the hands of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and his family.
The constitution provides for legislative power to be vested in a Shura (consultative) Council made up of 45 members, two thirds of whom would be elected and the rest appointed by the emir.
The Shura Council is currently named by the emir.