Polling for the municipal council elections in Dhofar Governorate saw a huge turnout of voters on Sunday. As many as 60,679 eligible voters cast their ballots across the governorate, underscoring the strength of awareness among the local population about the role of community participation in decision-making surrounding growth and development issues.
A breakdown of polling numbers received from election authorities shows voter turnout in Dhofar was the highest at 60,679, followed by North Al Batinah (57,168), South Al Sharqiyah (37,824), South Al Batinah (31,090) and Muscat (26,542).
The Observer had the opportunity to interact with some voters in the Dhofar Governorate.
Mohammed al Rawas from Salalah was impressed with the ease of voting.
“The voting process for the third term of the Municipal Council took place smoothly and easily, as the Intekhab App ensured simple and easy voting. Many thanks to the Ministry of Interior for keeping pace with modern technology in the electoral process. This shows the digital transformation that is underway in the Sultanate of Oman.”
Mohammad bin Salim Hardan from Wilayat of Rakhyout noted: “For the first time, I felt that voting was easy and smooth. It saved our time, especially for those living far from the urban centres. The voting process has improved hugely. During past elections, we used to wait in long queues at specific locations called proposal centres, often resulting in overcrowding and long waiting hours. This time, the efforts of the Ministry of Interior and other relevant authorities have contributed to a seamless process.”
Nasir al Shehri from Wilayat of Taqah was all praise for the authorities for elevating the standards of the electoral system. “The election process was simple for everyone, leaving no scope for vested interests intervention. The digital platform allowed citizens to exercise votes based on their judgment of the merit of the candidates. My experience says it was easy, and the winning candidates were declared a few minutes after the conclusion of the voting process. We also hope to see this successful technology applied during the Majlis Ash'shura elections for the next term.”
The final list of candidates for membership of the municipal councils for the third term indicated that a total of 727 candidates, including 28 women, were competing for council positions.
The Salalah Electoral Caucus was one of the first and largest in Oman, featuring a group of the most prominent citizens drawn from social, cultural and scientific backgrounds.
A selection committee vetted the candidates based on their professional credentials, contribution to specific sectors of the economy, understanding of local affairs of state, accessibility to voters and popular appeal.
In other parts of the Sultanate of Oman, local sheikhs and elders of some tribes adopted a structured approach to facilitate voting for the municipal council elections, which is one of the important axes in the comprehensive sustainable development agenda witnessed by the state in various fields and sectors.
Since the beginning of the first term of the municipal councils in 2012, the role of civic bodies in nurturing growth at the local levels has been growing. In December 2012, a total of 192 members were elected, rising to 202 in the 2016 elections. Each term is for four years.