Stage set for municipal council elections on Dec 25

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: Dec. 21: The countdown has begun for the second municipal council elections to be held on December 25 at different centres in the Sultanate. Voting will take place from 7 am to 7 pm and all results are expected by midnight.
Results will be available on the election website and the mobile app.
According to officials at the Ministry of Interior, counting of votes will be faster this time thanks to new technology.
“Voters can cast their franchise on new machines with state-of-the-art technology. These machines will be introduced at all election centres,” said Dr Hilal al Hatmi, Acting Head of the Electoral Register at the ministry.
In all, 107 election centres are ready to receive 623,224 voters, including 333,733 men and 289,491 women, to elect 202 members to 11 municipal councils.
There are 731 candidates, including 23 women, in the fray.
According to Dr Hilal, the new machines will provide more transparency in the election process.
“What a voter has to do is insert the ballot with a tick mark next to his/ her preferred candidate’s name into the machine,” he said. All centres have been provided with equipment and facilities to ensure the election process is smooth, he added.
Meanwhile, Omani voters in the GCC countries exercised their franchise at the Sultanate’s embassies.
Oman’s municipal councils play a non-legislative advisory role at a more local level. The term is for four years.
A candidate from Muttrah told the Observer that elections enable candidates and those interested in voluntary services engage in meaningful and extensive communication with citizens in the various wilayats.
“With the main issues to be highlighted being local, elected candidates can play a very effective role in the development of their areas,” he said.
“Elections are as important as Majlis Ash’shura polls,” he added.
According to another candidate, elected members should focus more on issues that impact people in general during their tenure.
“Civic polls are a step in the direction of establishing real democratic action in the country,” he said.
The first municipal elections in the Sultanate were held on December 22, 2012.