Qatar to hold Shura Council elections for first time in country's history

The New Arab
Publication date: 
Nov 14 2017
Qatar's emir has announced that the gas-rich Gulf state will hold elections for its most important consultative body, the Shura Council, for the first time in the country's history.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced the move at a speech at the Shura Council's opening session on Tuesday, according to Qatar's QNA news agency.

"The government is currently preparing for Shura Council elections, including drafting legislative measures necessary to ensure that these elections are conducted perfectly well," Sheikh Tamim said.

"There are legal shortcomings and legal issues that must be addressed beforehand, in order to have a fair Shura Council election," he said, adding that the legislation would be drafted next year.

It is expected that the elections for the council will take place in 2019.

The move comes days after Sheikh Tamim appointed women to the body for the first time in the country's history.

Four women now sit on the 45-strong council, which is responsible for discussing draft laws approved by the cabinet, general government policy and the state's draft budget.

Qatar announced it would hold elections to the Shura Council in 2007, but the vote - to elect two-thirds of all members of the council with the remaining third to be selected by the emir - was subsequently postponed.

Another planned election for 2010 also passed without a vote.

The country's only directly elected body is the 29-strong central municipal council.

Qatar continues to deal with the impact of the worst and most bitter diplomatic crisis in the Gulf for years, which has seen the emirate politically and economically blockaded by neighbouring countries.

Sheikh Tamim addressed the crisis during his speech, saying Doha was ready to hold talks with the Saudi-led bloc of Arab states.

"We express our readiness for settlements within the framework of dialogue based on mutual respect for sovereignty and joint commitments," the emir said.

"On the other hand, we are aware that the indicators we receive reveal that the siege countries are unwilling to reach a solution," he added.