Qatar cabinet approves draft law on Shura Council elections

Draft law for the partial election to the 45-member top advisory council outlines the rules under which the October vote will take place.

The Qatari electorate can vote for 30 members of the Shura Council, while another 15 will be appointed by the emir [Showkat Shafi/ Al Jazeera]

Qatar’s cabinet has approved a draft law on the nation’s Shura Council elections that are scheduled for October, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported on Wednesday.

The draft law for the partial election to the 45-member top advisory council outlines the rules under which the vote will take place. It is not yet clear on which date in October the elections will be held.

In November last year, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani ordered the formation of a committee to organise the vote, after a delay of several years.

The Qatari electorate can vote for 30 members of the Shura Council, while another 15 will be appointed by the emir.

According to the draft law, government employees are allowed to nominate themselves for Shura Council membership and keep their jobs if elected.

The draft law facilitates the process of voter registration, including electronic registration, and sets a spending limit on electoral campaigning at QAR 2 million per candidate. It will oversee the origin of the funds.

Candidates are obliged to avoid tribal or sectarian rhetoric and need to respect public morals, traditions and religious and social values of society. Offending other candidates or stirring up strife in any way is also banned under the draft law.

The draft law includes provisions to ensure public and private media are impartial in their coverage and treatment of all candidates.

Ministers, members of the judiciary, members of all military agencies, and members of the Central Municipal Council are banned from running in the elections, according to the draft law.

A committee headed by a judge chosen by the Supreme Judicial Council will be responsible for supervising the voting and counting process, as well as announcing the results.

The draft law also outlines “severe penalties” for electoral offences, such as foreign meddling, vote-buying, or other violations.

Following the elections, the Shura Council’s power is expected to be expanded to include the ability to dismiss ministers, approve the national budget and propose legislation.

In the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, voters are selected by the country’s rulers.

Kuwait and Bahrain both have elected parliaments, which have various supervisory powers, with no governance mandate. Government appointment rests with the rulers of the Gulf Arab states.

Source: Al Jazeera

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