An Omani man casts his ballot at a polling station in Muscat for a consultative council on October 25, 2015, where the longtime ruling sultan holds all major government posts
An Omani man casts his ballot at a polling station in Muscat for a consultative council on October 25, 2015, where the longtime ruling sultan holds all major government posts © Mohammed Mahjoub - AFP
An Omani man casts his ballot at a polling station in Muscat for a consultative council on October 25, 2015, where the longtime ruling sultan holds all major government posts
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

Omanis elect new council with limited powers

Omanis on Sunday elected an 85-member consultative council whose powers are limited in a country where the longtime ruling sultan holds all major government posts.

Authorities are yet to announce the turnout of the election for the new Majlis al-Shura, whose powers Sultan Qaboos slightly expanded in 2011 after unprecedented social unrest in the Gulf Arab country.

On Sunday men and women voted separately in the conservative and normally quiet nation, choosing from 590 candidates who included 20 women.

Oman was the first Gulf monarchy to allow women to vote in 1994.

Fawzia al-Kindie, who cast her ballot on Sunday, said: "I want my vote to reach the government. It is in my interest."

Polling closed at 1500 GMT and the electoral committee said results would be announced at an unspecified time.

The majlis was created in 1991 and has a four-year term. It has no role in defence, internal security or foreign affairs.

But in late 2011, the majlis elected its speaker for the first time and assumed the power to grill ministers.

It came about as part of measures decreed by Qaboos to respond to social unrest which included giving the majlis the ability to revise and propose legislation.

This year's poll comes at a time of uncertainty over a successor to the unmarried Qaboos who, according to a diplomatic source in Muscat, suffers from colon cancer.

The sultan has not been seen in public since he flew home in March after more than eight months in Germany for medical treatment.

State television reported the treatment was completely successful but a diplomat said Qaboos has returned at least twice to Germany.

Besides Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain are the only Arab states in the Gulf with parliaments elected by universal suffrage, but all three forbid political parties.

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