The Qatari cabinet has approved a draft law on the country’s election to the Shura council scheduled for October, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported on Wednesday.
The draft law for the partial election to the top advisory council of 45 members sets out the rules under which the vote will take place. It is not yet clear on what date the election will be held in October.
In November last year, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad instructed Al Thani to set up a committee to organize the vote, after several years of delay.
The voters in Qatar can vote for 30 members of the Shura council, while another 15 will be appointed by the emir.
Under the bill, government employees may nominate themselves for membership of the Shura council and retain their jobs if elected.
The bill simplifies the process of registering voters, including electronic registration, and sets a spending limit on election campaigns at 2 million QAR per candidate. It will oversee the origin of the funds.
Candidates are required to avoid tribal or sectarian rhetoric and must respect public morals, traditions and religious and social values of society. Offending other candidates or inciting disputes in any way is also prohibited under the draft law.
The draft law contains provisions to ensure that public and private media are impartial in their coverage and treatment of all candidates.
Ministers, members of the judiciary, members of all military agencies and members of the Central Municipal Council are prohibited from participating in the election under the draft law.
A committee chaired by a judge elected by the Supreme Judicial Council is responsible for overseeing the voting and counting process, as well as for announcing the results.
The bill also outlines ‘serious penalties’ for election offenses, such as foreign interference, vote-buying or other offenses.
After the election, the power of the Shura council is expected to be expanded to include the ability to fire ministers, approve the national budget and propose legislation.
In the neighboring United Arab Emirates, voters are elected by the country’s rulers.
Kuwait and Bahrain both elected parliaments, which have different supervisory powers, without a governing mandate. Government appointment rests with the rulers of the Arab Gulf states.