Qatar has set up a committee to oversee its first legislative elections, due to be held in October, its interior ministry said on Sunday.
The elections will be for two-thirds, or 30 members, of the 45-seat advisory Shura Council. Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will appoint 15 members, rather than the entire council as he does today.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also serves as interior minister, ordered the establishment of a supervisory committee which will be headed by interior ministry officials, the ministry said on Twitter.
Qatar, which already has municipal elections, has yet to publish the electoral system law for the Shura Council or set an exact date for the vote. Like other Gulf Arab states, Qatar has banned political parties.
Sheikh Khalid last month said that a draft electoral law approved by the cabinet in May would put limits on campaign spending and criminalise foreign funding and vote-buying.
He said the small but wealthy country, the world’s top liquefied natural gas supplier which will host the 2022 Football World Cup, had been divided into 30 electoral districts.
Sheikh Khalid had also said that there was no pressure from Qatari citizens to hold the Shura elections.
He said it was rather the belief of Qatar’s emir in moving forward “towards strengthening the role of the Shura Council in developing the legislative process and expanding national participation,” he told Qatari media last month.
During the past few months, Qatar has worked on developing constitutional procedures and legislative tools, including the electoral law.
The developments come after Sheikh Tamim ordered in November last year the formation of a committee to organise the vote, after a delay of several years.
Qataris account for approximately 10 percent of the roughly 2.7 million population, most of whom are foreign workers.
Kuwait is the only Gulf monarchy to give substantial powers to an elected parliament, which can block laws and question ministers, though ultimate decision-making rests with the ruler.
Bahrain and Oman have elections for one house of their bicameral parliaments, which have limited influence.
Saudi Arabia’s advisory body is appointed. In the United Arab Emirates, the government approves which citizens are allowed to vote for half the advisory council’s members.