By Lakshmi Kothaneth — MUSCAT: Dec. 26: A majority of the voters who exercised their franchise in Sunday’s Municipal Council elections are in the age group 25 to 35 years, said the election officials. However, the voter turnout saw a dip compared with the first elections held in 2012. The elections saw a voter turnout of 39.85 per cent, of which 63.2% were male voters and 36.8% female. “But it is too early to say the turnout is low as this is only the second term,” Khalid al Busaidy, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Interior, said while addressing the national, regional and international media. “I’m sure the system will grow with each term.”
“The role of the municipal councils will grow in the future,” said Al Busaidy. There was complete transparency in the voting process and judiciary was supervising the counting, said the officials. This time, the councils will have 143 new faces, while others have been elected for the second time. Many young candidates contested the elections, he said. “There were new faces who came forward with a clear-cut strategy, showcasing it on the social media,” said Talal al Saadi, referring to Amna al Balushi, a victorious candidate from Seeb. “There are other new faces and I think their outlook will be very effective.”
The first elections saw three women elected to the councils. In the latest election, seven women have been elected, including two from the Wilayat of Sinaina. “Women’s membership in the municipal councils shows that Omani women have won the confidence of society,” said the under-secretary.
He said the social media has played an important role for the candidates. Voters have 10 days (starting from Monday) for raising objections to the election results. Ten more seats have been added in five wilayats, namely Bahla, Liwa, Musannah, Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan and Jaalan Bani Bu Ali because of the increase in population.
Meanwhile, Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al Busaidy, Minister of Interior said, “As per the provision of the Municipal Councils’ Law and its Executive Regulation, the Municipal Councils’ 2nd Term Elections were organised on December 18 and December 25, 2016.” “It gives me a pleasure to express utmost thanks and gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos for the great care and wise guidance which secured involvement of all members of society in the comprehensive development march in the Sultanate,” he added.
He furthered that new IT technologies were used in the election process. These technologies included receiving and approving the application forms electronically. “Voting forms were also placed in a special box that was provided with a system, which reads and sorts out the forms electronically. Many measures were also in place to facilitate the casting of votes by voters and ensure full transparency and accuracy of the election process, as planned,” he noted.