The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has approved an electoral law for the country’s first legislative elections, which will take place in October, according to Al Jazeera.
The voting will be for 30 members of the Shura Council’s 45 seats. The emir will continue to appoint the remaining one-third of the council.
According to a statement released by Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO) on Thursday, appointed and elected members will have the same powers and responsibilities, including “approving the general policy of the government and budget,” as well as exercising oversight over the executive authority. Members can also make proposals for the government’s public affairs.
According to the GCO, the Shura Council elections are “an important step toward increasing wider citizen participation,” which is in line with Sheikh Tamim’s agenda.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is also the interior minister, announced that the country has been divided into 30 election districts, with one candidate elected in each district.
Citizens aged 18 and above whose grandfather was born in Qatar are now allowed to vote in the districts where their tribe or family resides, according to the new law. Candidates must be Qatari nationals with a minimum age of 30.
Qatar has banned all political parties and has already held municipal elections. Qataris voted in a referendum in 2003 to approve a new constitution that included partial council elections.
Qatar has been working on building constitutional procedures and legislative tools, including electoral law, during the last few months. Sheikh Tamim had ordered the formation of a committee to organize the vote in November of last year, after a several-year delay.